Home Affairs strike looming
Bongani Nkosi | 2017-06-08 13:44:18.0
Mkuseli Apleni‚ the Home Affairs director-general‚ on Thursday told reporters in Pretoria the unions want payment for officials who work on Saturdays‚ instead of days off. File photo
Image by: Peggy Nkomo
Home Affairs has insisted it would incur a serious budget shortfall if it were to accede to demands of workers’ unions threatening a strike.
Seeking overtime payment for their members‚ the Federation of Unions of South Africa and Public Servants Association have now served the department with a notice to strike from June 19.
Mkuseli Apleni‚ the Home Affairs director-general‚ on Thursday told reporters in Pretoria the unions want payment for officials who work on Saturdays‚ instead of days off.
“The proposal we tabled at conciliation‚ that officials be granted a day off on Wednesdays for every Saturday worked‚ was intended to cure this challenge of limited personnel‚” said Apleni.
But unions rejected this‚ hence a stalemate was reached in negotiations at the bargaining council.
“We are not in a financial position to consider and accede to the demand for overtime pay‚” Apleni said.
“Thus‚ we presented the alternative settlement proposal‚ for officials to receive a day off on Wednesdays‚ so that they do not work for 6 days a week‚ and remain within 40 hours.”
Apleni insisted that the department’s officials have been working on Saturdays since 2004. “Between 2004 and 2010‚ we paid overtime which was not sustainable.
“From 2010 to 2014‚ a day-off was granted for Saturday work‚ with officials allowed to take a day off on any day of the week.
“That dispensation posed serious challenges. Officials tended to take different days in the week resulting in the department perpetually operating on limited personnel.”
The country will suffer if unions take their members to strike‚ Apleni said.
“If this strike is to take place‚ it would interrupt mandatory services Home Affairs provides to citizens as enjoined by the Constitution of the Republic.
“Thus‚ as Home Affairs‚ we are deeply concerned by threats of a labour strike‚ ahead of one of our busiest periods in the year‚ that is‚ the school winter holidays.
“Ahead of the holidays‚ the number of client requests for travel documents shoots up as families prepare for the long break.”