Departments fail stressed workers

Lack of wellness units despite government policy guidelines.

ONLY seven out of 12 Eastern Cape government departments have wellness units to assist stressed employees, according to deputydirector general and provincial cabinet spokesman Mahlubandile Qwase.

This is despite provincial government policy guidelines on integrated employee wellness, which prioritises the wellbeing of employees.

Qwase was responding to staggering statistics about unresolved grievances lodged by employees in the provincial government dating back more than two years which were presented by departments at the Public Service Commission (PSC) session last week.

“Seven departments have wellness units but others do not have wellness units. The study we have conducted is reflecting that one of the problems facing the public service is stress,” Qwase said at the time.

Qwase cast doubt on any department’s ability to resolve the grievances without wellness units in place.

Attempts to get more details from Qwase yesterday were unsuccessful.

Only the provincial treasury responded to questions sent to departments last week. Provincial treasury spokeswoman Nosisa Sogayise said their wellness unit was operational. It provided 24-hour counselling services, periodic health screening, health and productivity management, safety health environment programmes, HIV/Aids and tuberculosis management and wellness programmes for employees. The Dispatch has seen policy guidelines which state that each department should have a well-staffed unit which has to include wellness support staff, committees and a budget.

In a report presented by PSC provincial commissioner Singafa Mafanya, provincial departments battled to resolve cases in the past two years.

The report states that:

  • Only three cases were resolved by the department of economic development, environmental affairs and tourism out of 10 cases lodged in 2012. Last year, the department only resolved three cases out of 14;
  • Education resolved nine cases out of 57 lodged last year, and only resolved one out of 14 in 2012;
  • Health resolved six cases out of 38 cases last year, while 33 were resolved out of 47 lodged in 2012;
  • Human settlements resolved five out of 12 cases in 2012 and three out of four last year;
  • The former department of local government and traditional affairs, now renamed department of cooperative governance and traditional affairs resolved four out of nine in 2012 and but did well to resolve 154 out of 157 last year;
  • The office of the premier failed to resolve two cases lodged in 2012;

Treasury resolved three out of nine lodged in 2012 and two out of three last year;

The former department of roads and public works, now public works, resolved seven out of 21 in 2012 and 27 out of 31 last year;

Rural development and agrarian reform resolved one out of five last year and all four cases in 2012;

Social development resolved 11 out of 14 in 2012 and seven out of eight last year;

Sports, recreation, arts and culture resolved 14 out of 16 in 2012 and three out of four last year; and

Transport failed to resolve all seven cases lodged last year while four out of six were resolved in 2012.

Mafanya said these cases involved unfair treatment, salary problems, employees who wanted to be medically boarded due to sicknesses, performance assessments and filling of posts. —