Agric officers threaten strike for ‘demotions’

2010-06-17 00:00

EXTENSION officers at the provincial Agriculture and Rural Affairs Department have threatened to bring the recently launched Rural Development Programme to a halt if the department proceeds with its plans to “demote” them.

The workers are allegedly victims of a dysfunctional “job evaluation system”, which apparently incorrectly upgraded some employees and left others unrecognised.

Over 600 workers, including extension officers, administrators and human resource officers are affected.

Sources in the department said the problems affect workers from all over the province.

An extension officer who did not want to be named said they will cripple the Rural Development Programme with the strike if the department proceeds with its job evaluation system.

“We are at the forefront in executing the rural development programme, and without us it will not move.”

Farmers and communities will also be adversely affected as they liaise with the extension officers.

He said many of the workers are aggrieved by the possibility of being “demoted” and they stand to lose thousands of rands.

“We were upgraded from level eight to level nine, and even then the managers did not want us to be upgraded. Some of us were only upgraded after the matter went to arbitration.”

The officer said that although certain workers were upgraded through the arbitration process, some of the managers are saying the upgrading process is illegal and want it reversed.

Boy Hadebe of the education and health workers’ union, Nehawu, confirmed there is an issue with the grading system, but said it is a “job evaluation mistake” that the HoD Sizwe Mkhize was trying to sort out.

He said Nehawu will sanction a strike only if Mkhize fails to resolve the situation.





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