We will work on Saturdays when you pay us overtime, union tells Home Affairs

2017-07-12 21:31
Home Affairs office. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

Home Affairs office. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

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Cape Town - While the Department of Home Affairs is committed to resolving an impasse over officials' working times on Saturdays, one of the unions it is negotiating with has a simple message: "Call us only when you are ready to pay overtime. Until then, there will be no work on Saturdays!"

This is the message of the National Union of Public Service and Allied Workers (Nupsaw).

This is a long-standing dispute, which dates back to March 2015.

Unions objected to officials working on Saturdays, which according to them would effectively mean they were required to work six days a week instead of five.

"This, according to the unions, meant extra transport costs for officials spread over 6 days, to cover Saturdays, and costs incurred towards caring for members' minor children, as well as leave allocation," read a statement from the department, issued last Thursday.

Unions reject offer

The department indicated that it was not in a financial position to accede to this demand and proposed that officials be granted a day off on Wednesdays to ensure that they do not work a six day week.

"In this way, officials would not incur additional transport costs and would be able to make appropriate arrangements for child care like other staff working a 5-day shift per week. The compromise would ensure also that fears around allocation and calculation of leave days would be allayed – with no official affected by whether they did a 5-day or 6-day shift.

"This would further mean that officials would work a full day on a Saturday comprising an 8-hour shift. Officials would still work a total of 40 hours per week, in line with the laws of the Republic."

The unions - Nupsaw, Public Servants Association of South Africa (PSA) and the National Education Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) - all rejected the offer.

Negotiations continued this week.

On Thursday, Nupsaw released a statement saying, until the department was "ready to pay overtime, the employer’s status quo of voluntary work on Saturdays remains".

"Following this, Nupsaw made it clear to the employer not to convene another meeting until they are ready to pay overtime that will be in line with the Basic Conditions of Employment Act."

Negotiations continue

However, Bongiwe Gambu, spokesperson for Home Affairs Minister Hlengiwe Mkhize, said the negotiations between the department and the unions were still ongoing.

"We are hopeful that by the end of the week we can have a clearer direction. Both parties remain committed to resolving the impasse," she said.

She said the aim was for the department to provide South Africans with the services to which they were accustomed.   

She said that currently a roll call was done on which officials were available to work on each coming Saturday, meaning they could never predict if the offices would be open on a Saturday. The department would communicate shortly before the weekend if the offices would be open to the public on Saturday.

"We are mindful that some people can only visit the offices on Saturdays," she said. She asked for the public's patience and requested that they try and visit the offices from Mondays to Fridays.

Read more on:    home affairs  |  hlengiwe mkhize

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