Ad­min­is­tra­tors call out se­nior par­lia­men­tary man­age­ment

CityPress - - News - AN­DISIWE MAK­I­NANA news@city­press.co.za

The strike by par­lia­men­tary staff has re­vealed cracks in the in­sti­tu­tion’s man­age­ment, with mid-level man­agers re­belling against Sec­re­tary to Par­lia­ment Gengezi Mgid­lana’s hard­line at­ti­tude to­wards strik­ing work­ers.

This week, more than 70 mid-level ad­min­is­tra­tors wrote to Mgid­lana and asked him not to en­force the no-work, no-pay rule on work­ers who took part in the four-week strike that se­verely dis­rupted the work of Par­lia­ment.

In the let­ter to Mgid­lana, which was copied to Na­tional Assem­bly Speaker Baleka Mbete and Na­tional Coun­cil of Provinces Chair­per­son Thandi Modise, the man­agers said the na­tional leg­is­la­ture should avoid ac­tion that would un­der­mine fu­ture re­la­tions with its work­ers.

The group, which calls it­self Con­cerned Man­agers and Spe­cial­ists, called on Mgid­lana not to in­sist on the no-work, no-pay rule, to of­fer trauma sup­port to all staff with a view to restor­ing trust and good work­ing re­la­tions, and to come up with a short-term plan for rein­te­grat­ing staff into op­er­a­tions.

They also asked Mgid­lana to make a com­mit­ment to es­tab­lish­ing a fo­rum for man­agers and spe­cial­ists where they could raise their con­cerns and chal­lenges, im­prove in­ter­nal com­mu­ni­ca­tion and pro­vide in­put into in­sti­tu­tional de­ci­sion mak­ing.

Sev­eral Par­lia­ment sources have told City Press that the move by the man­agers and spe­cial­ists was “un­prece­dented”.

“They are ba­si­cally call­ing out the se­nior man­age­ment. It has never hap­pened be­fore,” said a se­nior ad­min­is­tra­tor.

The mid-level man­agers and spe­cial­ists in­clude con­tent ad­vis­ers, le­gal ad­vis­ers, man­agers within the com­mit­tee sec­tions and other man­agers re­port­ing to unit heads.

City Press un­der­stands that Mgid­lana and the man­agers met on Fri­day to dis­cuss is­sues raised in the let­ter, but be­cause the strike was called off, the dis­cus­sions were not com­pleted.

Par­lia­ment spokesper­son Luzuko Ja­cobs said there was no need to re­spond to a let­ter that has “not been re­ceived” and whose au­thor was not even iden­ti­fied.

“The let­ter is un­signed and is al­legedly writ­ten by man­age­ment to man­age­ment. We can’t be spec­u­lat­ing and mak­ing wild guesses about such mat­ters,” he said.

How­ever, City Press un­der­stands from an of­fi­cial, who can­not be named due to fear of vic­tim­i­sa­tion, that the let­ter by mid-level man­agers led to a meet­ing on Fri­day. Fri­day’s meet­ing was con­firmed by two other sources.

Through­out the strike, man­agers had to keep a record of em­ploy­ees who turned up for work. A sep­a­rate strik­ers’ at­ten­dance reg­is­ter was also kept and had to be sub­mit­ted to se­nior man­age­ment.

When Par­lia­ment went into lock­down on Novem­ber 25, ac­cess was strictly con­trolled by po­lice armed with lists of names. It is un­der­stood that each em­ployee had a com­ment next to their name in­di­cat­ing whether or not they were on strike.

“Line man­agers and spe­cial­ists are caught up be­tween their obli­ga­tions to­wards the staff we man­age and the in­struc­tions of se­nior man­age­ment … we also have no rep­re­sen­ta­tion in terms of find­ing a plat­form to voice our con­cerns,” says the let­ter, which City Press has seen.

“Many of us are vul­ner­a­ble due to the con­tract na­ture of our posts,” they group added.

How­ever, Par­lia­ment and its pre­sid­ing of­fi­cers have adopted a hard­line at­ti­tude.

Modise in­di­cated dur­ing a press con­fer­ence last month that dis­missals were an op­tion at that stage.

“If that ends up in Par­lia­ment part­ing com­pany with its work­ers, that will be a sad day. It might be done, but we are not there yet,” said Modise on Novem­ber 24, the day singing Na­tional Ed­u­ca­tion, Health and Al­lied Work­ers’ Union mem­bers oc­cu­pied the Cham­ber. The oc­cu­pa­tion led to the can­cel­la­tion of the two sit­tings that were sched­uled for that day.

Speak­ing at a Cape Town Press Club lunch this week, Modise re­it­er­ated that ac­tion would be taken against work­ers who had bro­ken the law dur­ing the strike.

On Fri­day, the strik­ing em­ploy­ees ended their month-long strike when they ac­cepted an agree­ment that left many of them dis­ap­pointed.

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