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Prisons hold staff to ransom

09 June 2014, 19:20

The mere fact that the Department of Correctional Services can expect of its employees to work a 7 day shift roster, and in working that roster, not to compensate them for the overtime hours that they work, is to say the least atrocious and without having any real respect or concern to what the situation does to morale, loyalty and job satisfaction.

On the last count employees of Correctional Services were owed R 1,2 billion (that is One Thousand Two Hundred Million Rand) to compensate them for the overtime worked, yet the Department just flatly states that it has no money to pay its employees the said overdue overtime for which they have legally worked.

Had the situation been in any other business, the government would have come down on the employer, and taken him to court, for failing to adhere to the Basic Employment Act, and the employer would be saddled with a court order, yet within the Department of Correctional Services the policy applies ‘don’t do as I do, but do as I tell you too!’ and this in its own is and amounts to gross violations of the labour law, and exploitation in the worst degree of its employees.

Workers within the Department of Correctional Services are paying hundreds of thousands of Rands to either the POPCRU Union or the PSA, yet both Unions have been unsuccessful in getting the Department to pay the long overdue money.

The statement made by warders within the Westville Correctional Services is that they have become corrupt instead of rehabilitating and correcting behaviour, as offenders pay for privileges to supplement their income which the government should have paid in the first instance and much quicker to say the least. Can this behaviour be condoned (excused, forgiven, pardoned punished)?

No, it amounts to corruption in its worst form, but when an employee is expected to work and not be paid for it, and he has to sustain his family and other commitments, what alternatives are there for him/her but to become corrupt?

The Department can cut on its expenditure by just applying the ‘sentence reduction’ granted by the president in an more acceptable way and by doing this can save more than R 2, 3 billion (that is Two Thousand Three Hundred Million Rand) on its expenses, and can then have the money to pay its employees and in doing so, instill loyalty, eliminate corruption, and fulfill its mandate on rehabilitation and correctional behaviour.

But instead of acting in this way and saving cost, it is overlooking ways and means in which it can save money, yet is creating an atom bomb that cannot explode (as correctional officials are not allowed to strike), and the only alternative being left for them is to ‘go slow’ and then the consequence is poor management, disloyalty, ‘no care’, using sick leave as ‘leave’ not to work, etc.

The Honourable Minister of Correctional Services should be ashamed of exploiting his employees in the Department in this way, and should take notice of suggestions on how the Department can save money, just by logistically following and amending its policy on calculating dates on which offender qualify to be released on parole, in the way that it should be in terms of the relevant regulatory constitutional order granted by the State President as a sentence reduction and not only to apply half of it, and then to calculate possible release dates, which in essence makes the time that any offender has to be incarcerated more.

So Deputy Minister Thabang Makwetla think of the Department of Correctional Services as a business and apply some skills in reducing numbers, which by synergy reduces cost and then you can compensate your employees accordingly.

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