Labour relations to investigate Bacus misgivings

2009-08-05 00:00

NEW MEC for Transport, Community Safety and Liaison, Willies Mchunu, is to appoint an independent labour relations and governance specialist to investigate the validity of staff grievances against head of department, Yasmin Bacus.

Staff picketed at the department’s offices in Pietermaritzburg recently, accusing Bacus of “racism, corruption, mismanagement, fraud and nepotism”, calling for her immediate suspension and the reinstatement of suspended union leaders.

Represented by the National Education Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu), the employees marched to provincial parliament on Friday, July 24, where they handed over a list of grievances.

Staff members have been picketing during lunch hours outside the department’s head office on Loop Street in Pietermaritzburg, since Monday last week.

In a media statement released on Monday, Mchunu said the investigation is not meant to cast aspersions on the integrity of the senior management.

He said it was rather a precautionary measure to enhance good governance and maintain a conducive working environment.

“To arrive at an objective decision, I have decided to appoint a facilitator with expert knowledge of labour relations and governance matters to investigate and make recommendations accordingly.”

Nehawu chairman Sabelo Kunene and secretary Mafika Maseko are the two union leaders who were suspended.

“We were suspended for mobilising workers, which is procedurally incorrect and politically wrong. [Bacus] does not want to recognise the union and undermines the policies on the ruling party. She is a stumbling block in service delivery,” said Maseko.

According to Kunene, problems in the department started when Bacus was appointed in 2004.

“Since she assumed duties she has been terrorising, victimising, harassing, belittling and tarnishing images [of employees] within the department.”

Kunene said almost 80% of critical and influential positions in finance and procurement management is occupied by “non-Africans”.

He said, after Bacus failed to address these issues, the union took action and as a result its leaders were suspended.

“The facilitator will investigate the validity or otherwise of the grievan­ces. As a matter of principle, the ANC-led provincial government is committed to good governance. We will do everything in our power to expedite this process, while ensuring that no day passes by without optimal service delivery to our people,” said Mchunu.

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