12 June 2017, PSA has, to the dismay of the Department of Home Affairs (DHA), and in a manner that may be regarded as unscrupulous and devoid of any integrity, distributed misinformation in the form of fliers to officials at Head Office, and by extension, to the public at large.
The conduct of the union has been unreasonable. The union is aware that the DHA has referred a dispute to expedited arbitration. This happened today, 12 June 2017 where the department presented its submission and the unions, clearly unprepared, could not present their own submissions, and instead requested indulgence from the Commissioner to allow them to submit written submissions by Tuesday 13 June 2017. This would in turn allow the department to reply to the unions’ submissions later that afternoon.
Upon closure of the submissions, the Commissioner would then make a decision in the form of an award by no later than close of business on Wednesday, 14 June 2017.
The union is aware that the decision of the Arbitrator may have a dispositive effect on the strike in that if the correct characterisation of the dispute is as the department has outlined, the unions will clearly not be entitled to strike. Despite this, the union elected, in a rather precipitous manner, to call upon and begin organising the strike. This conduct also undermines the efficacy of the dispute resolution procedure under the Labour Relations Act (LRA).
Also apparent from the strategy of the PSA is that it intends causing maximum harm and maximum damage to the public, hence the premature notice to strike and further mistruths outlined in their fliers distributed to the officials and the public at large this morning.
The union has been unreasonable in its conduct of the matter. During the conciliation proceedings last week, it adopted a single track stance, refusing to budge on its demands. The department was prepared to accommodate the union’s demands by allowing each employee a day off during the week, on a Wednesday, in order to compensate for the fact that they have worked on a Saturday. The union refused to consider this proposal which simply goes to show that the intention of the union was never to engage in a meaningful consultation process but to use power for its own sake.
In this misinformation, PSA sought to mislead officials and the public that negotiations have been exhausted and therefore entitles it to embark on a strike. This is far from the truth as parties are still continuing with the negotiation process in the form of arbitration that was scheduled for hearing today, at the General Public Service Sector Bargaining Council (GPSSBC).
Officials of the department are reminded that the labour dispute currently underway between the department and the unions is a constitutionally and legally sanctioned process to which parties must abide with and observe the rules governing the process. To this end, PSA’s decision to serve the department with a notice to strike was rather premature, ill-considered and in bad faith as the dispute resolution mechanism is still currently underway.
The department has further noted the latest communique from PSA in which PSA seeks to unjustly influence the department’s immigration service to join their ill-conceived strike action under the guise that our immigration service is not an essential service. Immigration service is not declared an essential service, but the reality of the situation is that it provides an essential service the importance of which should not be relegated to point-scoring.