In response to the statement made by NEHAWU on a planned strike scheduled for 13 March 2017, the Department of Social Development sees it befitting to respond to issues raised as grievances by the workers' union.
The statement published in COSATU Special Bulletin on 7 March 2017; alleges that the Department of Social Development "has failed to table a meaningful response to the union's demands".
It is important to note that it is a fact that the Department of Social Development is not in a position to meet the demand of NEHAWU in respect of the Occupational Specific Dispensation (OSD) simply because such a review falls beyond the mandate of the Department Social Development.
The OSD has been issued as a directive by the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA) and as such, its amendment and/or review can only be done by the DPSA. The OSD has been applied to other sectors and is subject to collective bargaining structures.
The Department would like to put it on record that on 16 February 2017 a memorandum was sent to NEHAWU outlining a list of issues and progress made in relation to their demands.
The Revision of Social Services Professional/Workers Entry levels:
Engagements with the DPSA for approval to review OSD continue.
Delinking Accelerated Grade Progression from the Performance Management Development System (PMDS):
The Occupation Specific to PMDS is currently under discussion. The model will be piloted this year while engagements are continuing in the Council to resolve this matter.
We are also determined to address the issue of Reducing the Years of Grade Progression Qualification and this will be raised during negotiations of the occupation specific PMDS.
The provision of working tools:
The Department has developed a standardised package of office tools for implementation by Provinces in respect of all social workers. The extension of the danger allowance to all categories has also been viewed seriously by the Department and this matter is still under discussion in the Bargaining Council. These engagements should therefore continue until the matter is finalised.
The introduction of rural allowance:
The Department is currently working on the costing models to be funded from baseline allocations.
Improved working conditions for all:
All provinces undertook a process of quantifying the resources required to improve the working conditions of social workers, including Community Development Practitioners (CDPs). These include ICS, infrastructure, and transport and once this process has been finalised, each Province will procure and allocate resources accordingly.
The Department of Social Development will in due course, provide feedback on Insourcing of all Secure Care Centre outsourced to Bosasa, Permanent employment of all Contract Workers based at the Gender Based Violence Command Centre; as well as ring fencing the Government Subsidy Paid to Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) for NGO Employees Conditions of Service.
As such, the department did respond to concerns raised by NEHAWU and we asked for further engagements because some of the matters raised are process matters. Given the financial implications, some of the issues raised by the union will require prioritisation.
The Department of Social Development has taken this upon itself to liaise with National Treasury and DPSA on the above matters.
As a caring and open department, dialogue and engagement is always encouraged to resolve issues and concerns. The department will therefore continue to engage the relevant structures and affected parties with the aim of finding solutions to all the issues raised.
Issued by: Department of Social Development