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Fire department employees, government at loggerheads over new working schedule

Monday, 5th October, 2020

MBABANE: Thulani Hlatswako, the Secretary General of the National Public Services and Allied Workers Union (NAPSAWU) said as employees of the ESwatini National Fire and Emergency Services , they are being forced by the government to work new shifts without proper arrangements and resources thus exposing their lives to danger.

Speaking to this Swaziland News on Monday, the NAPSAWU Secretary General said the new shifts suggests that some employees will knock-off at 12midnight without any means of transport as the employer stated categorically  that no employee will be transported beyond 20 kilometers.

“Government engaged us on this and its her right to introduce shifts but when we analyse this new working schedule further, we realised that it undermines workers rights. We took the matter to CMAC because we had some concerns regarding the new working arrangement but the employer continued with the implementation. We are not opposed to this but our main worry is to knock-off at 12midnight without any transportation assurance as the employer said the transport will not go beyond the 20 kilometers. As a result, we decided to work with the old shifts arrangements but our superiors grabbed vehicle keys saying no one is allowed to work without adhering to the new arrangement” said the NAPSAWU Secretary General.

Reached for comment, Sipho Tsabedze, the Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Public Service said the changes came after government realised that employees within the Fire Department were being paid “double over-time allowances”.

“These changes come after it was discovered that fire employees were receiving double over-time allowances. Initially the over-time allowance was for working extra hours but in 2004, the employees demanded to be paid over-time and they won that case through an arbitration award hence they started receiving extra-hours payment and the over-time. All government workers are expected to work 48 hours a week and 176 hours per month. But fire employees work 164 hours per mont and out of that, 124 hours is paid at normal time rate and the difference is paid as over-time and allowance for working extra hours. This is what has been perceived as unfair to the employer” said the Minisry of Public Service Principal Secretary.

Fire department employees, government at loggerheads over new working schedule
Fire Department