Briefs: Deadline for public service restructuring nears

According to Minister of Public Service and Administration, Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi, June 30 is D-day for public service restructuring. Citing an agreement between unions and government reached in June 2002, Moleketi said that government departments "have been asked to identify vacancies and employees in excess, so as to match posts to staff".

Those public servants that cannot be accommodated in the matching exercise will be made redundant. Since last year, joint union-government task teams have been busy developing plans that determine posts necessary to perform departmental functions.

The teams are also meant to identify workers who are to be re-deployed. The agreement reached last year gave the government and the unions twelve months with a possible three months extension, to do the job.

According to the Public Service Coordinating Bargaining Council (PSBC), under whose auspices the restructuring is taking place, different departments are at different stages of the exercise.

"A workshop held at the beginning of March exposed how far behind many of the departments were", says PSBC's general secretary – Shamira Suluman. She also confirms the government's determination to see restructuring concluded as per last's year's agreement.

"As the general secretary of the bargaining council, I have a sense that the government feels that the process has been dragging and that conclusion is required this round," says Suluman.

But Thembekile Siko, Nehawu's organising secretary and union chief negotiator on restructuring, remains unfazed. He feels that the deadline has to be renegotiated. "Restructuring 38 national and 90 provincial departments is not something that can be done in 12 or even 15-months", says Siko.

He also feels that "the June 2002 has not been implemented 100%". According to Siko "some departments were quick to declare excess staff without doing what the agreement requires them to do first – develop strategic and human resource plans".

He also points out that the exercise has narrowly focused on utilisation of existing staff and not on job creation as agreed in the January 2001 public service jobs summit. As things stand, government and unions are set for a collision. Unless one side gives in on the date, a train smash will occur.


Numsa News