Land Affairs staff down tools to protest unequal pay

2009-10-22 00:00

EMPLOYEES affiliated to the National, Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) at the Land Affairs Department in Pietermaritzburg downed tools and picketed outside their offices yesterday as part of a national strike protesting “wage disparities”.

The employees, who work as surveyors and technicians, claim the department is underpaying them and that it has employed many junior staff on salaries that are significantly higher than those of the senior employees.

They said the department employs 202 people with only a grade 12 qualification and experience and it pays them more than staff who have been working at the department for years. Senior staff have been told to train the junior staff members.

The Nehawu national co-ordinator at Land Affairs, Zimasile Giyama, said industrial action is their last resort.

“When the matter first emerged, we informed the department about our dissatisfaction; they responded by removing those people from the surveyors’ section and placed them with land reform. We thought that was an insult to us because we were not protesting their presence in the department, but rather their higher wages.”

He said the employees want to be paid fairly. “There are people here who have been working for the department for much longer periods as surveyors, but are underpaid compared to these new employees and yet they are expected to train them.”

Giyama said the demand for better wages is not motivated by greed.

“A job evaluation within the department determined that we were underpaid; even the national director-general of the Department of Land Affairs has issued a directive that from April 1 … salaries should be positively adjusted.”

The director of communications at the department, Eddie Mohaibi, said the department is unhappy with Nehawu’s course of action.

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