Unions flag state for 'unfairness'

HEAR US ROAR: Cosatu marchers in Johannesburg. 11/05/07. Flexing muscle: Cosatu members march in Johannesburg during the two day strike to protest against the government's privatisation policy. Pic: Elizabeth Sejake. © ST.
HEAR US ROAR: Cosatu marchers in Johannesburg. 11/05/07. Flexing muscle: Cosatu members march in Johannesburg during the two day strike to protest against the government's privatisation policy. Pic: Elizabeth Sejake. © ST.

Unions have complained about political interference in disciplinary cases in the public service.

The unions - Nehawu, Sadtu, Popcru and Denosa (all Cosatu affiliates), the independent Public Servants Association (PSA) and Health and Other Services Personnel Trade Union of South Africa (Hospersa) - have told the Public Service Commission (PSC) that state employees are not treated equally based on friendship, union and political affiliation.

The PSC has undertaken to establish whether there is a link between what the unionists view as manipulation of disciplinary cases by management or politicians.

According to the commission's study, dated March 30 2016, it received 70 responses from organised labour representatives from the six unions, which represent the majority of the government's over 1.3 million employees. l Public sector union Nehawu is Cosatu's largest affiliate with 277317 members;

 Teacher union Sadtu has 248556 according to figures tabled at the federation's congress in November;

 Police and prisons union Popcru has 154 008 members;

 Nurses union Denosa claims more than 80000;

The PSA says it has more than 237000 members; and

Hospersa has above 69000 members, according to its president Masale Selematsela.

Selematsela said there were complaints of these practices from their shop stewards.

He said disciplinary cases of public servants close to political principals and management were often postponed indefinitely.

Simphiwe Gada, Denosa chairman in Gauteng, said: "Employers undermine labour relations officers and want to dictate outcomes. They're supposed to resolve grievances in a fair and just manner."

The PSC admitted that subjectivity in handling disciplinary cases and dispensing of sanctions is a serious problem facing the public service.

The PSC found that the majority of disciplinary cases in the public service were finalised between four and 12 months, a significant number within three months while a less but still significant number of cases is finalised between one to three years.

In the worst cases, a certain number of cases take between four and seven years or more to finalise.

According to the unions, harsh action is taken against junior public servants while their errant bosses are treated leniently.

sidimbal@sowetan.co.za

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