Pretoria — The labour unions representing Home Affairs employees have called off a strike planned for Monday, following an agreement reached between the Department of Home Affairs and the unions.
The department has been engaged in a protracted dispute with the Public Servants Association (PSA), the National Health, Education & Allied Workers Union (Nehawu) and the National Union of Public Service and Allied Workers (Nupsaw) on the issue of implementing new opening and closing hours. The dispute dates as far back as March 2015.
The unions objected to officials working on Saturdays, which, according to them, officials would effectively be required to work for six days a week as opposed to five days.
This, according to the unions, meant extra transport costs for officials spread over six days, to cover Saturdays, and costs incurred towards caring for members' minor children, as well as leave allocation.
Following the unions' demands that the department either compensate employees working on Saturdays or reverting to a system where employees work a five-day week, from Monday to Friday, the department indicated it is not in a financial position to consider and accede to this demand.
Instead, it tabled an alternative settlement proposal in which officials would be granted a day off during the week, on Wednesdays, to ensure that they do not extend their days over 6 days.
Following months of court battles, the department has withdrawn a circular aimed at forcing its staff to work on Saturdays without paying them overtime.
"The Department of Home Affairs withdraws the circular introducing the shift system. We will negotiate in a way that satisfies both the employer and employees" the department's Nkidi Mohoboko said on Saturday.
In an agreement signed at Public Service Bargaining Centre in Centurion on 15 June 2017, the department withdraws the circular introducing the shift system, dated 02 March 2015, and that operations within the department will revert to conditions that prevailed prior to implementation of the circular including voluntary work on Saturdays.
The trade unions also withdraws the notice of intention to strike issued on 06 June 2017.
The parties also agreed to enter into collective bargaining on working hours at the Departmental Bargaining Chamber of the General Public Service Sector Bargaining Council (GPSSBC).