Unpaid workers given marching orders
SOME of the unpaid interns and volunteers at the Department of Education’s Truro House offices in Durban have been given their marching orders.
They had volunteered their services for the past two years, long after their contracts had ended, and were allowed to continue to work with the hope that they would be given first preference when the large number of vacancies were advertised.
After protesting for permanent posts, they were told this week that their services were no longer needed.
“Their letters of appointments indicated when their contracts would end. They have overstayed and were now exploiting our good hearts by allowing them to stay longer than expected,” said department spokesperson Muzi Mahlambi.
About 50 volunteers were among the group of interns, most of whom worked in the human resources and payroll departments, who downed tools last week.
They complained of the exploitation of unemployed graduates who filled the vacancies of employees who had died or resigned.
The protest, which, according to the Educators’ Union of South Africa (EUSA) was legal, ended prematurely as the number of interns taking part decreased by the day.
Upon returning to work, the interns were served with the letters.
Mahlambi said the department had written to them to inform them that their services were no longer needed and that the department had no obligation to them. The letter also said no volunteers would be permitted to work at Truro House.
EUSA president Scelo Isaac Bhengu said it was obvious that the letters were issued as a result of the strike.
“The department kept (the volunteers) because they provided a service for free.
“We are not going to take this lying down. The fight is on,” he said.
Last week EUSA alleged that two officials at Truro House had permanently hired a number of people from among the interns and volunteers.
The department said it was investigating who had made the appointments as all positions were frozen in 2008.