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MBABANE – Details of the investigation into the E14 million that was paid out to Sincephetelo Motor Vehicle Accident Fund (SMVAF) employees following a salary review exercise have been revealed.

The Cabinet-sanctioned investigation, which led to the suspension of talks for a new contract for the Category A public enterprise’s Chief Executive Officer Helmon Vilakati, will look into at least nine areas.
Among these is the collective agreement that was signed by SMVAF management and the Swaziland Union of Financial Institutional and Allied Workers (SUFIAW).

The agreement was entered into on August 8, 2017.
The full scope of the investigation is contained in a Government Gazette – Legal Notice No. 65 of 2019 dated April 20, 2019 and signed by Finance Minister Neal Rijkenberg.

Also to be looked into are the salary reports by LCC Capital Consulting and Emergence Growth “in relation to the Public Enterprises Unit (PEU) Circulars on pay packages 3 of 2010, 4 of 2013 and 4 of 2016”.

One of these circulars; Circular No. 4 of 2013, headlined ‘Controls on pay packages of Category A Public Enterprises’, gave CEOs an enormous pay increase ranging between 17 and 20 per cent.
It also benefitted Chief Financial Officers in a similar fashion as the CEOs.

LCC Capital and Emergence Growth were engaged by SMVAF and the union to do a market survey, benchmark and recommend market related pay scales.
This was after the two parties had embarked on an exercise to determine and agree on a fair and equitable salary review formula that was informed by a market survey to ensure staff was rewarded competitively.

value of the jobs and rank
A job grading exercise was then undertaken by LCC and Emergence Growth to determine the value of the jobs and rank them in the hierarchy of the organisation.

According to the agreement, the two parties then adopted the LCC Capital report “as far as grading is concerned subject to the amendments agreed on during the consultations with management and staff or any other part of the report save for the salary scales which was based on total cost to company”.
The two parties went on to agree the pay structure as recommended by Emergence Growth “which is based on basic pay plus benefits is adopted and hence the concept of total cost to company when restructuring pay is discarded”.

Further, they agreed that “the recommendation by Emergence Growth to use the 50th percentile benchmark as the recommended entry level for each job grade is adopted”.
Another part of the agreement was that employees whose current pay was above the entry benchmark on the scales would be treated in such a manner that the incumbents did not have their salaries slashed but would retain their current remuneration without getting any upward adjustment, but the salaries would be increased by the cost of living adjustment in the next year and going forward.

“Those individuals whose current pay exceed the maximum pay grade limit, would also have their pay remain unchanged but in the following year and thereafter will be given the cost of living increment as a once off pay annually without increasing their basic pay,” states the agreement.
Another part of the agreement was that the adjustment in salaries would have a retrospective effect to April 1, 2012.

“Management will implement the changes in pay together with back pay as soon as possible and where there are budgetary limitations, a portion of back pay will be effected this current financial year and the balance paid out in the next financial year,” reads the agreement.
It also states that the agreement was subject to the approval of the board and that in the event the board did not approve the agreement in full or in part, either party may exercise its rights as provided in law to get remedy.

“This agreement will remain valid for a period of not less than three years or until another agreement on salary review is signed whichever comes first,” it adds.
Implementation of the agreement later became subject to a court process, something that was provided for in the document under subtitle ‘dispute resolution’.
The part of the board’s approval is also one of the nine areas to be looked into as another function of the probe team is “to look into the recommendations of the board and Cabinet approvals on this matter”.

She wondered what report the PEU, through SCOPE, were looking at when approving implementation of the report from April 1, 2012 and April 1, 2017.
“This is because all the questions and concerns that are now coming up ought to have been raised then,” she said.
But the more pertinent question that the union wants answered is not so much about the payment, instead they want to be tackled is the delay that was due to what they were told was the SCOPE process.
 “We are unimpressed about the operations of SCOPE, which is lethargic in its approach to issues affecting workers, where these have been submitted to that body and remain on their desk for months, whilst we are told that they are ‘still looking at them’—whatever that may mean,” Shiba said.

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