Bury­ing loved ones a worry as strike looms

Home Af­fairs’ staff talks break down re­gard­ing over­time pay

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS - RAPULA MOATSHE

BE­REAVED fam­i­lies across the coun­try could face a sit­u­a­tion whereby they can’t bury their de­ceased loved ones should a planned strike by Home Af­fairs work­ers go ahead on June 19.

Home Af­fairs di­rec­tor-gen­eral Mkuseli Apleni sounded the alarm at a me­dia brief­ing in Pre­to­ria yes­ter­day.

He was giv­ing feed­back on the failed con­cil­i­a­tion talks be­tween the depart­ment and the Pub­lic Ser­vants As­so­ci­a­tion, with re­gard to dis­putes on over­time pay­ments.

He said the sit­u­a­tion would mean that fam­i­lies could not bury their loved ones. “If death struck in a fam­ily dur­ing the strike, the de­ceased can­not be buried with­out a death cer­tifi­cate,” he said.

Apleni ex­pressed con­cern that the im­mi­nent strike would im­pede the depart­ment’s is­su­ing of death cer­tifi­cates, among other ser­vices.

Peo­ple would also not be able to travel abroad, be­cause the of­fi­cials on strike would not be avail­able to as­sist them with the re­quired doc­u­men­ta­tion.

“It would mean child grants can­not be pro­vided as this is also de­pen­dent on birth cer­tifi­cates be­ing is­sued,” Apleni pointed out.

Talks be­tween the two par­ties col­lapsed on Wed­nes­day at the Gen­eral Pub­lic Ser­vice Sec­tor Bar­gain­ing Coun­cil.

He said the depart­ment was con­cerned by threats of a labour strike ahead of the win­ter school hol­i­days, which was their busiest pe­riod in the year.

“Ahead of the hol­i­days, the num­ber of clients re­quest­ing travel doc­u­ments shoots up, as fam­i­lies pre­pare for the long break,” he said.

Last week, Apleni as­sured the pub­lic that civic ser­vices’ front of­fices would con­tinue to op­er­ate on Satur­days.

“Satur­day work was im­ple­mented in 2004. Be­tween 2004 and 2010, we paid over­time, which was not sus­tain­able,” Apleni said.

In 2010, the depart­ment spent R14 mil­lion for the year on over­time pay­ments.

“We are not in a fi­nan­cial po­si­tion to con­sider and ac­cede to the de­mand for over­time pay. Thus, we pre­sented the al­ter­na­tive set­tle­ment pro­posal for of­fi­cials to take a day off on Wed­nes­days, so that they can work six days a week, and re­main within a 40-hour week,” he added.

From 2010 to 2014, a day off was granted for Satur­day work al­low­ing of­fi­cials to take a day off on any day of the week.

“But that dis­pen­sa­tion posed se­ri­ous chal­lenges. Of­fi­cials tended to take off on dif­fer­ent days in the week re­sult­ing in the depart­ment per­pet­u­ally op­er­at­ing on lim­ited per­son­nel,” Apleni said.

Dur­ing ne­go­ti­a­tions, the depart­ment pro­posed that of­fi­cials be granted a day off on Wed­nes­days for ev­ery Satur­day worked. But the pro­posal was re­jected by the unions.

He said the pro­posal was in­tended to re­solve the chal­lenge of lim­ited per­son­nel.

“As we seek a so­lu­tion, the sta­tus quo will re­main. Of­fi­cials are ex­pected to com­ply with the cur­rent open­ing and clos­ing hours, in­clud­ing ser­vice pro­vi­sion on Satur­days. We are do­ing ev­ery­thing in our power to avert dis­rup­tion of ser­vice de­liv­ery,” Apleni said.

To al­le­vi­ate the im­pact of the im­mi­nent strike, he said the depart­ment would ask other gov­ern­ment de­part­ments to as­sist with the run­ning of the of­fices, in­clud­ing man­ning the coun­try’s ports of en­try.

He said the im­ple­men­ta­tion of new work­ing and clos­ing hours was in­tended to broaden ac­cess. The de­ci­sion to have work­ing hours on week­ends was a cab­i­net de­ci­sion to as­sist the pub­lic.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.