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Sol employees back from jaunt

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“The vacation policy clearly indicates that service must be continuously provided, even when staff take leave.”

Picture: Danie van der Lith

THE TWENTY-eight staff members at the city’s motor registration and vehicle testing section were back at work yesterday and it was business as usual after 22 staffers took a long weekend break for a team-building exercise in Mauritius.

The section was closed from Wednesday evening after the staff members apparently raised the required R11 500 per person for their trip to the island where they intended to discuss various pieces of legislation.

Sol Plaatje Municipality spokesperson, Sello Matsie, said that all the staff members were back at their posts yesterday and the operation of the section was back to normal.

He added that the issue, where all staff took leave at the same time necessitating the closure of the section, would be discussed at a management meeting in order to prevent a similar occurrence in the future.

“The vacation policy clearly indicates that service must be continuously provided, even when staff take leave.”

The situation, however, is not unique and Matsie confirmed yesterday that the section was closed for one day in 2016 when the staff members went on a similar trip to Durban.

“As a municipality we still hold the view that our primary role is the provision of municipal services based on the principles that we place the public first.”

Matsie added that the “justified unhappiness of members of the public has been very clear”.

“We apologise for the inconvenience which this has caused and we can guarantee it won’t happen again,” he stated.

Last week, Matsie indicated that the employees had paid for the trip to Mauritius from their own pockets after apparently running a monthly savings scheme since last year.

He added, however, at the time that the decision to close the section for two days had not been sanctioned by senior management.

“This decision to close the section for two days, irrespective of who carries the costs, impacts on service delivery and can never be condoned by the municipality.”

A total of 22 of the 28 staff members employed in the section left Kimberley on Wednesday night in a hired 22-seater bus for Johannesburg and flew to Mauritius on Thursday morning.

The other six staff members, who did not go with, were unable to keep the section open as they are not licensed to do the necessary work.

The cost of the trip was reported to be R11 500 per person, although it was not certain whether this was just the cost of the flight tickets or included accommodation, meals and spending money.