Mapisa-Nqakula on collision path with union

CORRECTIONAL Services Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula is headed for a clash with police and prisons union Popcru after telling Parliament yesterday that she is going to do away with weekend overtime pay for prison officials.

Announcing that her department would be moving from a "five day establishment" to a "seven day establishment" today, Mapisa-Nqakula, pictured, said: "We believe we can make savings because we will not have to pay extra for that."

She said the overexpenditure that had led the department to run at a R500million loss this year was "mainly caused by weekend overtime claims".

She said the overtime claims were consuming huge amounts.

But Popcru spokesperson Benzi Ka-Soko said while the union had agreed that members would work on weekends, it would not save money because the agreement was to include overtime pay in new basic salaries.

"Members have already made use of this overtime to buy houses," he said. "If it is taken away willy-nilly people are going to suffer.

"We agreed that the seven-day establishment should not leave members worse off and we are going to watch them under a microscope to see that implementation is according to the agreement."

Meanwhile, Mapisa-Nqakula has put the building of five new private prisons on hold, pending a review of whether or not private companies can effectively manage prisons.

"The government should own the operations and programmes in prisons," she said.

"So if people feel the rehabilitation programmes are not the best the government should take responsibility."

She said if prisons were to be run by private companies and the government had a "hands off approach" it would not know what was happening at such facilities.