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

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