Saturday, September 26, 2020

Cleaner-turned technician forces Ministry’s hand

The Ministry of Land Management, Water & Sanitation Services has found itself with its back against the wall following its decision to continue paying its former cleaner on the same salary scale after she was promoted as a technical assistant.

It emerges in court papers that Segolame Itumeleng who was appointed as a cleaner on a salary scale of A3 in 2005 in the Department of Water Affairs at Ministry of Land Management, Water and Sanitation Services, enrolled into a vocational course in Electrical Engineering at Madirelo Training and Testing Center under the then Ministry of Labour and Home Affairs in 2012.

Following completion of the courses and with her consent, Itumeleng was then redeployed to the Maintenance Section under Office Operations, within the Department to commence work as a Technical Assistant by letter dated the 31st of July 2013.

It is alleged that when Itumeleng brought the alleged anomaly (to continue being on A3 scale she was redeployed to her former cleaner position).

As such, Itumeleng argued that her redeployment to a cleaner on the 14th of December 2015 at A3 Salary Scale constitutes an unlawful variation of her contract of employment.

“It is submitted that in terms of the Scheme of Service, the Applicant (Itumeleng), during the said period, became eligible to payment at B2 salary scale from the 1st of August 2015, onwards,” Itumeleng argued through her lawyers Ndadi Law Firm.

In his replying affidavit, Senior Manager Corporate Services Thabologo Ndzinge explained that the reason for Itumeleng’s initial redeployment (as a Assistant Technician) was to retool her so that she would be employed by Water Utilities Corporation; unfortunately she completed her studies after the last takeover of Water Sector Reforms. She was however redeployed to Maintenance Unit on her current scale (A3) for her to acquire hands on experience on her new vocation of skill acquired.

“During this time she complained that she was not being promoted. However, her redeployment was simply to assist her in gaining skills as there was not actual available post thus why the Applicant was transferred on her A3 salary and scale,” said Ndzinge.

He said Itumeleng has always been on “A3 scale of a cleaner as she was a cleaner who was given the opportunity to gain skill and experience in the vocation she was trained in.”

He said “There was no unilateral variance of her employment conditions by her redeployment on the 14th December she had always been a cleaner in this regard. However the Ministry does admit that she did perform “duties in an acting capacity outside of this scope between 2013 to 2015 and should be compensated in this regard.”

However, Nzinge said, the Ministry “did not try to assist the Applicant (Itumeleng) in gaining skills for a period there is no available post at present to permanently transfer the Applicant into.”

But Itumelng insisted that she was redeployed to the Maintenance Section under Office Operations within the Department of Commence work as Technical Assistant in light of her training.

The result is that, she said, this attracted B3 salary scale, which she never received.

She argued that nowhere in the letter redeploying her did the Ministry indicate that she was being re-tooled as the Ministry claimed.

“Nowhere does the Respondent (Ministry) in the said letter indicate that I will be redeployed to Water Utilities Corporation. Most importantly, nowhere in the said letter am I being told that I’m redeployed for the purpose of acquiring hands on experience,” she said.

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