Connect with us
Advertisement

Public Service Act, 2008 amendments: a review (Part II)

Ndulamo Anthony Morima
EAGLE WATCH

Last week, we discussed the proposed amendments, namely: (a) forms of misconduct, (b) the enactment of rules of procedure to be followed in disciplinary matters by the Permanent Secretary to the President (PSP), and not to Public Service Bargaining Council (PSBC), and (c) that when reduction of salary is imposed as a punishment the consent of the employee shall not be required.

We also discussed the proposed amendments (d) that disputes, or appeals thereto, between public servants and the employer will be referred to the Commissioner of Labour in terms of the Trade Disputes Act, 2003 instead of the PSBC and (e) that a person holding “a management post” (and not “in senior management of the public service”) shall not engage in a strike or action short of a strike.

In this article, we discuss the following proposed amendments, namely: (a) that the General Secretary of the PSBC, shall be appointed by the PSP from amongst employees of the Directorate of Public Service Management (DPSM) and (b) that only Public Officers can be representatives of trade unions admitted to the PSBC.

We also discuss the proposed amendments (c) that government can confer a benefit on an employee notwithstanding ongoing negotiations, (d) that recognition will entitle a union to one seat at the PSBC and (e) that those suspended from duty will not be guaranteed full salary, but nothing less than half their salary.

We also discuss the proposed amendments (f) that the misconduct of engaging in an amorous or sexual relationship affects all public officers as opposed to teachers only as is currently the case and (g) the proposal to amend the Act by increasing punishments for certain offences.     

First, the proposal to amend the Act to the effect that the General Secretary of the PSBC, shall be appointed by the PSP from amongst employees of the Directorate of Public Service Management (DPSM). Currently, in terms of clause 4.1.15 of the constitution of the PSBC the General Secretary is appointed by the PSBC itself.

I disagree with this proposed amendment because it is effectively going to transform the PSBC into a government department since the Secretary, if an appointee of the PSP under DPSM’s employ, will no doubt have allegiance to the PSP, not the PSBC. This is exacerbated by the proposed amendment to have DPSM as the Secretariat for the PSBC.

Second, the proposal to amend the Act to the effect that only Public Officers can be representatives of trade unions admitted to the PSBC. I agree with this proposed amendment because I am unable to see the circumstances where it can be compelling for a person who is not a Public Officer to represent a trade union in the PSBC. Also, one cannot effectively represent public officers if he or she is not himself or herself a Public Officer.

BOFEPUSU’s argument that trade unionists like Johnson Motshwarakgole and Ketlhalefile Motshegwa have been targeted with what the federation views as a drastic departure from ILO standards as well as local case law, which has authoritatively pronounced on the issue is not persuasive since trade unionism is not about individuals, but about the collective. Certainly, there are enough public servant trade unionists who can ably represent public servants in the PSBC.

Third, the proposal to amend the Act to the effect that government can confer a benefit on an employee notwithstanding ongoing negotiations. I agree with this proposed amendment with respect to ununionised employees since they should not suffer prejudice because of negotiations between government and the trade unions they are not members of. Besides, a trade union has no locus standi with respect to non-union members.

I, however, agree with BOFEPUSU that if a benefit is conferred on a union member notwithstanding ongoing negotiations that would “… run contrary to the spirit of negotiating in good faith. The hallmark of negotiating in good faith is that an employer must not take any steps averse to the party negotiating on behalf of its members…”

Fourth, the proposal to amend the Act to the effect that recognition will entitle a union to one seat at the PSBC. BOFEPUSU is opposed to this, arguing that “… the implication of this provision is simply that a union like the National Amalgamated Local, Central Government and Parastatal Workers Union (NALCGPWU) which has more than 20,000 members will have the same voice as a union like Trainers and Allied Workers Union (TAWU) which has less than 200 members.”

I agree with the proposed amendment. When trade unions attend the PSBC they should attend as one unit and should have agreed on issues to be discussed. Therefore, one representative per union is sufficient. In Parliament and Councils, for example, each constituency or ward has one representative regardless of the population of the constituency or ward.

Fifth, the proposal to amend the Act to the effect that those suspended from duty will not be guaranteed full salary, but nothing less than half their salary. I disagree with this proposed amendment because it contravenes the principle that everyone should be presumed innocent until proven guilty.

Why put an employee under financial prejudice which may even deny him or her the right to represent him or herself effectively because he or she cannot afford engaging an attorney, for example, due to financial hardship?

Sixth, the proposal to amend the Act to the effect that the misconduct of engaging in an amorous or sexual relationship affects all public officers as opposed to teachers only as is currently the case.

This is a welcome amendment because by engaging in such relationships with students, for example, other public servants cause the same harm to students that teachers do.

Seventh, the proposal to amend the Act by increasing penalties. It is submitted that penalties, i.e. fines and imprisonment terms have to be proportionate and fair and an employee’s salary has to be taken into consideration in imposing a fine, for example. For instance, if two employees who earn P 6,000.00 and P 27,000.00 per month are convicted of the same offence, it is disproportionate to fine each of them P 30,000.00. While the punishment will be severe for the employee earning P 6,000.00, it will be a slap on the hand for the employee earning P 27,000.00.

Continue Reading

Columns

Export Processing Zones: How to Get SEZA to Sizzle

23rd September 2020
Export Processing Zone (EPZ) factory in Kenya

In 2005, the Business & Economic Advisory Council (BEAC) pitched the idea of the establishment of Special Economic Zones (SEZs) to the Mogae Administration.

It took five years before the SEZ policy was formulated, another five years before the relevant law was enacted, and a full three years before the Special Economic Zones Authority (SEZA) became operational.

This content is locked

Login To Unlock The Content!

 

Continue Reading

Columns

Egypt Bagged Again

23rd September 2020
Samson

… courtesy of infiltration stratagem by Jehovah-Enlil’s clan

With the passing of Joshua’s generation, General Atiku, the promised peace and prosperity of a land flowing with milk and honey disappeared, giving way to chaos and confusion.

Maybe Joshua himself was to blame for this shambolic state of affairs. He had failed to mentor a successor in the manner Moses had mentored him. He had left the nation without a central government or a human head of state but as a confederacy of twelve independent tribes without any unifying force except their Anunnaki gods.

This content is locked

Login To Unlock The Content!

 

Continue Reading

Columns

‘RO, ‘RO ‘RO YOUR ‘BOT

23rd September 2020

If I say the word ‘robot’ to you,  I can guess what would immediately spring to mind –  a cute little Android or animal-like creature with human or pet animal characteristics and a ‘heart’, that is to say to say a battery, of gold, the sort we’ve all seen in various movies and  tv shows.  Think R2D2 or 3CPO in Star Wars, Wall-E in the movie of the same name,  Sonny in I Robot, loveable rogue Bender in Futurama,  Johnny 5 in Short Circuit…

Of course there are the evil ones too, the sort that want to rise up and eliminate us  inferior humans – Roy Batty in Blade Runner, Schwarzenegger’s T-800 in The Terminator,  Box in Logan’s Run,  Police robots in Elysium and  Otomo in Robocop.

And that’s to name but a few.  As a general rule of thumb, the closer the robot is to human form, the more dangerous it is and of course the ultimate threat in any Sci-Fi movie is that the robots will turn the tables and become the masters, not the mechanical slaves.  And whilst we are in reality a long way from robotic domination, there are an increasing number of examples of  robotics in the workplace.

ROBOT BLOODHOUNDS Sometimes by the time that one of us smells something the damage has already begun – the smell of burning rubber or even worse, the smell of deadly gas. Thank goodness for a robot capable of quickly detecting and analyzing a smell from our very own footprint.

A*Library Bot The A*Star (Singapore) developed library bot which when books are equipped with RFID location chips, can scan shelves quickly seeking out-of-place titles.  It manoeuvres with ease around corners, enhances the sorting and searching of books, and can self-navigate the library facility during non-open hours.

DRUG-COMPOUNDING ROBOT Automated medicine distribution system, connected to the hospital prescription system. It’s goal? To manipulate a large variety of objects (i.e.: drug vials, syringes, and IV bags) normally used in the manual process of drugs compounding to facilitate stronger standardisation, create higher levels of patient safety, and lower the risk of hospital staff exposed to toxic substances.

AUTOMOTIVE INDUSTRY ROBOTS Applications include screw-driving, assembling, painting, trimming/cutting, pouring hazardous substances, labelling, welding, handling, quality control applications as well as tasks that require extreme precision,

AGRICULTURAL ROBOTS Ecrobotix, a Swiss technology firm has a solar-controlled ‘bot that not only can identify weeds but thereafter can treat them. Naio Technologies based in southwestern France has developed a robot with the ability to weed, hoe, and assist during harvesting. Energid Technologies has developed a citrus picking system that retrieves one piece of fruit every 2-3 seconds and Spain-based Agrobot has taken the treachery out of strawberry picking. Meanwhile, Blue River Technology has developed the LettuceBot2 that attaches itself to a tractor to thin out lettuce fields as well as prevent herbicide-resistant weeds. And that’s only scratching the finely-tilled soil.

INDUSTRIAL FLOOR SCRUBBERS The Global Automatic Floor Scrubber Machine boasts a 1.6HP motor that offers 113″ water lift, 180 RPM and a coverage rate of 17,000 sq. ft. per hour

These examples all come from the aptly-named site www.willrobotstakemyjob.com    because while these functions are labour-saving and ripe for automation, the increasing use of artificial intelligence in the workplace will undoubtedly lead to increasing reliance on machines and a resulting swathe of human redundancies in a broad spectrum of industries and services.

This process has been greatly boosted by the global pandemic due to a combination of a workforce on furlough, whether by decree or by choice, and the obvious advantages of using virus-free machines – I don’t think computer viruses count!  For example, it was suggested recently that their use might have a beneficial effect in care homes for the elderly, solving short staffing issues and cheering up the old folks with the novelty of having their tea, coffee and medicines delivered by glorified model cars.  It’s a theory, at any rate.

Already, customers at the South-Korean  fast-food chain No Brand Burger can avoid any interaction with a human server during the pandemic.  The chain is using robots to take orders, prepare food and bring meals out to diners.  Customers order and pay via touchscreen, then their request is sent to the kitchen where a cooking machine heats up the buns and patties. When it’s ready, a robot ‘waiter’ brings out their takeout bag.   

‘This is the first time I’ve actually seen such robots, so they are really amazing and fun,’ Shin Hyun Soo, an office worker at No Brand in Seoul for the first time, told the AP. 

Human workers add toppings to the burgers and wrap them up in takeout bags before passing them over to yellow-and-black serving robots, which have been compared to Minions. 

Also in Korea, the Italian restaurant chain Mad for Garlic is using serving robots even for sit-down customers. Using 3D space mapping and other technology, the electronic ‘waiter,’ known as Aglio Kim, navigates between tables with up to five orders.  Mad for Garlic manager Lee Young-ho said kids especially like the robots, which can carry up to 66lbs in their trays.

These catering robots look nothing like their human counterparts – in fact they are nothing more than glorified food trolleys so using our thumb rule from the movies, mankind is safe from imminent takeover but clearly  Korean hospitality sector workers’ jobs are not.

And right there is the dichotomy – replacement by stealth.  Remote-controlled robotic waiters and waitresses don’t need to be paid, they don’t go on strike and they don’t spread disease so it’s a sure bet their army is already on the march.

But there may be more redundancies on the way as well.  Have you noticed how AI designers have an inability to use words of more than one syllable?  So ‘robot’ has become ‘bot’ and ‘android’ simply ‘droid?  Well, guys, if you continue to build machines ultimately smarter than yourselves you ‘rons  may find yourself surplus to requirements too – that’s ‘moron’ to us polysyllabic humans”!

Continue Reading
Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!