Fire workers want to go back to 24-hour shift system
NAPSAWU Fire Sector Vice Secretary Vusumuzi Dlamini has revealed that unionists have agreed to go back to the 24-hour shift system which on 2012 the workers wanted to do away with.
NAPSAWU is an acronym f or National Public Services and Allied Workers Union.
Currently, workers are working under the eight and 16-hour shift system which was introduced in 2012. These shifts were granted to workers by the court after they complained about the 24-hour shift system. This resulted in two shifts a day, the first one from 8am to 4pm then another one ending at 8am the next day.
Dlamini said the workers have now agreed that the 24-hour shift is the best and need away of modifying it to best suit both the employees and the employer. He said before the shift was changed, it accumulated a lot of bonuses and the employer was not happy with it.
Dlamini was disputing allegations made by the Swaziland National Fire and Emergency Services Divisional Officer Operations Herbert Shabangu. Shabangu said workers were divided over which shift system should be introduced for the next five years.
Dlamini said Shabangu was outdated on the proceedings of the negotiations. He went on to allege that Shabangu had never attended negotiations.
“We want a shift that would suit us like the 24-hour shift. Unfortunately, it accumulated a lot of overtime which didn’t go down well with the employer. We want the shift system to suit both the employees and the employer,” Dlamini continued.
He said the 24-hour shift would suit workers because the newly established fire stations in Big Bend and Siphofaneni had no staff houses. He said workers would be able to go back to their places of residence after knocking off. He added that the 24-hour shift could allow off and leave days.
Dlamini made an e x a mple of Mozambique, Botswana, Lesotho and South Africa where their colleagues were using the 24- hour shift. He conceded that the preferred shifts could be explored, emphasising that it should however fit both employees and the employer.
He highlighted that shifts are always reviewed after five years hence the reviewing process was underway. Dlamini said he hoped that whichever shift system to be introduced would sort out the current issues. He explained that they were negotiating for time on which the shifts should start. He said workers should be given off days and be able to go on leave.
“You can’t be expected to take off days on Sundays and holidays,” he added.
He went on to state that due to the current shift system most workers off days fell onto weekends and holidays. He said this resulted in them taking a day off instead of two days.
“This also results in us not being able to use all of our off days before the end of government’s financial year,” Dlamini said.
On the other hand, Herbert Shabangu said that only the court could help solve the issue of which shift system should be introduced.
“The workers have been divided into two groups. This can be well solved by the court as it also the current shifts said.
The officer went on to allege that a financial crisis among staff members has resulted in them refusing to take off days and to go on leave because they hope to make extra money from overtime.
“This is making working conditions awkward as it affects deployment of workers. We are all affected, and it is disturbing work,” Shabangu said.
“The eight-hour system would suit us best but if there would be no overtime. However, this shift system needs a lot of provisions including staff houses to provide accommodation for workers,” Shabangu said.
He stated that for the eight-hour shift workers needed to be close to their work places. He said due to lack of funds it was not possible to construct the staff houses. were introduced,” Shabangu