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Union slams govt’s holiday plan

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The services of government can and will never come to a halt because of the festive period

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THE POLICE and Prisons Civil Rights Union (Popcru) has objected to the proposed closure of government departments during December, as it believes that this will negatively affect service delivery.

Popcru provincial secretary Boitumelo Pheleo indicated that the state could not compromise services by going on holiday over the festive season.

“They are expected to provide services throughout the year.”

He added that during the closure, around the second week of December until January 2, civil servants would be forced to take leave.

“This may also interfere with their leave balances, which will be depleted in December when they would have preferred to take leave at another time of the year. The unions were not consulted on this issue.”

National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) provincial secretary Sabata Jonas added that staff members could not be forced to fill in leave forms, should government departments close over this period.

“We have rejected this proposal and our members will report for work as usual. If the workplaces are closed, then these days should be given to employees.”

Jonas indicated that Nehawu, Popcru and the Public Servants Association (PSA) had lodged a dispute with the General Public Service Sector Bargaining Council, where it was agreed that no department should be shut down in the absence of a settlement agreement and until the matter had been finalised by the chamber.

According to the agreement, all disciplinary actions levelled against employees in respect of refusing to fill in leave forms during the December 2016 shutdown should be withdrawn.

The spokesperson for the Office of the Premier, Monwabisi Nkompela, explained that the closure of government departments over the festive period was adequately catered for by the directive from the Department of Public Service and Administration in three circulars that were issued between 2001 and 2007.

“These circulars state that periods of office closure during the festive season must be covered by annual leave and not special leave. Annual leave for this period must be timeously captured.”

He added that departments were expected to timeously notify employees of planned office closures.

“Government cannot completely shut down as certain departments provide essential services during this period, such as the departments of Health, Social Development, Education, especially the examinations units as well as the Department of Transport, Safety and Liaison, among others.”

Nkompela indicated that the Office of the Premier would not close.

“We will have skeleton staff at work.”

He explained that staff were encouraged to take their leave during this period.

“Work volumes decrease significantly at year end when the schools close and over the advent of the festive period. It is therefore considered prudent that staff should be granted annual leave. Supervisors must as far as possible allow staff to take their annual leave during this period.”

He added that consultations with organised labour and the chamber were ongoing.

“A special chamber meeting has been scheduled to take place with the with General Public Service Sector Bargaining Council from December 11 to 12.

“The services of government can and will never come to a halt because of the festive period. Government continues to function throughout this period.”

– Sandi Kwon Hoo