Phone use cap mutes dept

2010-06-15 00:00

AN attempt by the provincial Transport Department to cut down on costs has left its employees complaining that they are now without telephones to execute their duties.

Although it is not clear exactly when the department started to cut down on telephone usage, members of the National Education and Health Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) said they started to feel the effect at the beginning of this month.

The union said it was not even consulted about the move.

“Workers are now left without an important tool to execute their duties. They are even forced to use their cellphones to do the department’s job,” said one worker, who asked not to be named for fear of intimidation.

Nehawu chairperson in the department Vusi Gama said the decision to cut down on telephone usage was taken without consultation. He said the sections that have been affected by the move are operations, human resources, strategic planning, road safety, finance and communication.

“They terminated phones at the end of May. Then early this month (June) they re-connected them for only two days. Right now we are operating without telephones.

“We raised the matter with the manager of corporate support service Kamintha Gounder, who could not give us an explanation of what is going on. Last week we approached chief financial officer Wayne Evans, who told us that that the department was cutting down on costs,” said Gama.

Gama said the department should have consulted the unions to create “a clear” policy for controlling telephone usage.

Gama said service delivery has been severely affected. He said workers are no longer able to phone other sections of the department. He said even Nehawu officials have no access to phones in order to do union duties.

An employee in the road safety section said he had to use his own cellphone when a member of the public phoned the call centre about a driver who was committing a traffic offence on the R102 near KwaDukuza last week.

“There was no phone to call traffic officers in our KwaDukuza office. As a result I was forced to use my own cellphone to make that call,” said the employee.

Transport spokesperson Lungile Ndlovu confirmed that there is a limitation on staff telephone usage. But she said the decision was based on cabinet’s call to cut down on expenditure. She added that phone usage had been capped at R50 a month for junior personnel, rising to higher amounts depending on the rank of the person involved.

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