News agency, Cape Town, South Africa
Sunday September 15th 2019

Cushy parliament package for switchboard operator angers unions

While public sector teachers and nurses around the country recently embarked on strike action over salary negotiations, parliament is advertising for a switchboard operator with a remuneration package of R175 145.This is just under R5000 per annum less than what a teacher gets paid. The switchboard operator, however, only needs a Grade 12 qualification while a teacher requires a four-year teaching diploma at a minimum.

Junior nurses only get R12 000 per annum after obtaining a four-year degree.

And in the corporate sector, switchboard operators get paid between about R77 000 per annum.

The advertisement offering the generous salary also follows protests from a small group of parliamentary workers belonging to the National Education, Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu) who demonstrated outside of working hours for four days in Parliament Street against a salary offer made by parliament in early September.

Respective unions have expressed outrage over the salary package for a switchboard operator.

“It’s extremely concerning that we’re seeing so many discrepancies in one country and yet tax payers are the source for both salaries,” said Mike Myburgh, chief executive officer for National Professional Teachers Organisation of South Africa (Naptosa) in Gauteng.

“What parliament pays its employees compared to other public servants is tremendously inconsistent,” said Myburgh.

The advertisement, which ran in The Mail&Guardian this week, stated that the successful applicant must have Grade 12 or NQF level four as well as two years of relevant experience. The position involves providing information about the workings of parliament, continually innovating and looking for new ideas to further update and improve the internal telephone directory and answer calls from both internal and external stakeholders.

In addition, operating a switchboard and development maintenance of the internal telephone directory are key performance areas.

Nomusa Cembi, media officer for South African Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu), said the R175 145 salary offered is an insult to teachers who had to study for four years.

“It’s an abuse of our tax payers’ money because an ordinary switchboard operator doesn’t even earn R80 000 a year,” said Barbara Ruiters, provincial secretary for Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa (DENOSA) in the Western Cape.

Ruiters said a standard registered nurse with a four-year degree and two years of experience earns about R120 000.

“It’s very upsetting because government is only looking after certain categories of public servants. We were only fighting for a little more, yet government can afford to pay people in small positions without any tertiary qualifications,” she added.

Nehawu national spokesperson Sizwa Pamla said the advertisement is reflective of the government’s dysfunctional remuneration system and should be reconsidered.

Government needs to look at a single public servant’s remuneration system so that we can have an unbiased and clear understanding, he said.

According to Kelly, a recruitment agency, between R76 000 to R78 000 per annum is offered to junior switch board operators in the private sector. – Yugendree Naidoo, West Cape News

Tags: naptosa, nehawu, parliament street, professional teachers, public servants, remuneration package, salary negotiations, switchboard operator

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