Human Resources related challenges: Department of Correctional Services briefing

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Justice and Correctional Services

19 November 2014
Chairperson: Dr M Motshekga (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Department of Correctional Services (DCS) briefed the Committee in detail on its challenges in human resources. It noted that there was still a problem in leadership stability, with a consistent number of vacancies at senior management at both national and regional levels. The recruitment and retention strategy set out nine interventions to deal with the identified challenges, including the fact that manual and paper driven recruitment processes, which took substantial time and cost, could be replaced with electronic systems, whilst it was recognised that currently, lack of capacity with the human resources division to adequately handle the recruitment requirements of the Department needed some outsourcing. Proactive recruitment would be investigated. Hindrances through the current Department of Public Service and Administration rules would be addressed by DCS seeking permission to depart from certain procedures. There remained a problem with Occupation Specific Dispensation (OSD). The problem in sourcing the correct skills was being addressed by partnerships with the further education colleges, particularly for artisans, and assessment tests as part of the interview process, and greater absorption of interns into low-level security positions. Recruitment plans were being put in place, and there were plans to decentralise recruitment to regions. Task Teams would be revitalised, and they would help to define current and future talent needs, and predict recruitment costs more accurately.

The Ministerial Task Team, comprising representatives of the DCS and the two main unions, had attended to some matters but there were several matters that still needed to be resolved. These included the second phase of OSD, which involved discussions with the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA). Labour wanted the promotion policy to be reintroduced, although this was unlikely since it had deliberately been phased out years before, and other proposals were being considered for those who could not receive increases because they were already at the top of their salary scales, because of the time they served in the Department. There were discussions and a court dispute over backdated overtime, which was phased out when the 7-day establishment was introduced. That 7-day establishment had left certain centres understaffed at certain times, which impacted negatively on their ability to attend to rehabilitation and employment of inmates. There was also a problem with the control room operators, appointed in 2009, who were then moved across to fill other vacancies, and who were claiming that they should have followed a different appointment procedure. Similarly, there was ongoing dispute over the interpretation of the housing allowance, and both DCS and the SAPS were seeking a legal opinion. The choice of artisans whether to be put under artisan OSD or corrections OSD was also causing some problem, since DCS needed to retain individuals in their artisan positions until they could be replaced, and this would be referred to the bargaining chamber, as would the position for the 7-day establishment and shift systems. DCS noted that it was engaged in organisational re-alignment, which resulted in the creation of the Remand Detention and Community Corrections branches. Consultation took place with all senior management staff and appointments had been made. The rate of completion was outlined.

Members expressed concerns about the vacancy rate, firstly because this had persisted over a long period of time, and secondly because it indicated a misalignment between budgeting and strategic planning, because money intended for filling of posts was not being used, or redirected on an ad hoc basis. Several Members also expressed concerns about the 7-day establishment and its effect on the security of officials and inmates and on the ability of the Department to pursue its core mandate of rehabilitation. They also asked about the effect of the occupation specific dispensation on scarce skills such as psychologists, asking whether DCS staff were now being remunerated on the same level as counterparts in other departments. They questioned the nuances of the learnership programme which formed part of the retention and recruitment strategy and suggested that a leaf be taken from the successful NARYSEC programme of the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform. The Chairperson felt that perhaps DCS was spending too much time in planning and seeking approvals rather than implementing boldly, and further comments were later made also about the tendency it had shown in the past of taking matters on review rather than negotiating positively and effecting change. It was suggested that it should act boldly and escalate matters to the Minister of Justice and Correctional Services instead of waiting for other departments. Members commented that the DCS must see to its core functions of rehabilitation and integration, ensuring staff were sufficient to allow for this, asked about the position with temporary or contract staff, and questioned whether the DCS had considered something similar, for all its staff, to the basic training in the military, and how it dealt with interns, how it publicised bursaries and employment opportunities, and what partnerships it had with other departments, and how it was affected by the announcement of a moratorium on filling posts. Members emphasised that the DCS must be keenly aware of the problems and act proactively to try to find solutions.     

Meeting report

Human Resources challenges at the Department of Correctional Services: Departmental briefing
The Chairperson said this would be an information session to enable the Committee to make decisions on what the challenges were that faced the Department of Correctional Services (DCS or the Department) and how they could be resolved.

Mr Theboho Mokoena, Chief Deputy Commissioner: Human Resources, DCS, said it was decided at a recent National Management Committee meeting to hold a workshop to discuss human resources challenges within the Department. The focus of this workshop would be to interrogate the challenges and adopt interventions. This meeting took place on 14 November 2014 and drew on the collective wisdom of the regional human resources management and heads to give national management a better understanding of coal-face challenges.

Leadership Stability
Mr Mokoena spoke to a table depicting the vacancy rate at senior management level. This showed a vacancy rate of 100% at level 16, 21.42% at level 15 and 18.86% at level 13. The aggregate vacancy rate here was 18.57%. He noted that the pinch was being felt at director level and there were a total of 39 senior management vacancies. The turnover rate at this level had dropped from 15.1% in 2011/12 to 12% in 2013/14.

He then listed the vacant posts at both the national office and in the regions, which included National Commissioner, Chief Deputy Commissioner Strategic Management, Chief Financial Officer and several area commissioners. He added that the positions at level 15 and 16 had been advertised, while interviews for several positions at other levels had been conducted. Since the presentation was compiled the post of Director Regional Head Corporate Services Kwa-Zulu Natal had been filled, with effect from 1 December 2014.

Recruitment in DCS
The establishment analysis at 31 March 2014 showed that there were 42 006 financed posts, 39 699 filled and a vacancy rate of 5.49%. At 31 October 2014 there remained 42 006 financed positions, though there were now 39 397 filled posts, giving a vacancy rate of 6.21%. One of the contributory factors was a spike in resignations or early retirement at production level and those with whom there had been discussions when they retired had pointed to rumours that the reform of the pension fund would lead to the fund being obliterated. Despite on-going efforts to allay fears, people were still leaving while they had something in their hands. Over the 2013/2014 financial year there were 1 271 appointments and 1 515 terminations. This could also be attributed to the rumours, and on average 70 early retirement applications were received.

Mr Mokoena said that the DCS was a labour intensive employer and it required the right people in the right places to function effectively. The recruitment challenges and proposed solutions were as follows:

- Recruitment processes were manual, paper driven and labour intensive with no efficiencies: DCS now intended to roll out an e-recruitment system to facilitate quicker turnaround times, particularly in light of the post office strike which had stalled recruitment. There would also be ICT interventions to enable DCS to conduct assessments and interviews online. This would reduce recruitment costs considerably, as currently DCS paid for travelling costs of candidates.

- Shortage of capacity within human resources planning and utilisation unit to manage recruitment effectively. DCS decided to conduct a work study analysis to determine the need for additional capacity, as recruitment levels fluctuate. Permanent capacity may not be the best solution and service providers would assist with high volume recruitment, such as for learnerships. It was important to ensure that the learnership or bursary students were  the right mix.

- DCS recruitment process was reactive rather than proactive. DCS now intended to enlist service providers to assist in areas of executive and specialist skills, and response handling in high volume recruitment projects.

- Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA) policies and procedures were a hindrance, requiring that each post must be advertised three times before DCS was allowed to head hunt. DCS now intended to seek dispensation from the DPSA to allow head-hunting where initial advertisement did not yield results.

- Further complications arise with the Occupation Specific Dispensations, because this could had counter-productive effects where an important skill may be pegged at a lower entry point than the person presently earned, discouraging them from pursuing that skill.

- In some cases, there were no suitable candidates to fill critical vacancies. DCS was now intending to partner with institutions of higher learning, in particular FET colleges, to absorb graduates especially artisans. Secondly, it was investigating the potential for seconding skilled persons from fraternal departments, such as the Department of Health. This burden could be resolved if there was a policy shift which saw specialised departments such as Health covering this service for every other department needing health services for inmates.

- There were high attrition rates, particularly in areas of critical operations. DCS was now proactively forecasting pending exits and put in place a recruitment plan. The concern was whether it was appropriate to advertise a post immediately the present incumbent indicated an intention to leave, although the advantage was that it could assist in allowing for a proper hand over from the incumbent.

- The finalisation process of filling a post was prolonged due to long route of signatories. It was now decided to include signatories who had a direct impact on finalisation of appointment memoranda. The newly-approved delegations would also assist in reducing turnaround times, as finalisation could be done by the Chief Directorate for levels 2-10 and within branches for 11-12.

- The turnaround times were slow, with an average of four to six months to fill a single vacancy. DCS now intended to decentralise recruitment to regions, with regional recruitment specialists. Furthermore, the filling of vacancies would be included in performance agreements for branch head and regional commissioner, to ensure that recruitment was prioritised.

- The nature of job contents made it impossible to attract external candidates to fill custodial positions, leading to internal transfers from one level to another. DCS would entrench absorption of learners into entry-level security functions.

Mr Mokoena moved on to expand on some of the proposed solutions, starting with the need to develop a scientific staffing model, This would require the revival of task teams which implemented policies like OSD in the public service, to review the impact of resolutions on recruitment and retention of staff. Further, this would assist in determining current and future staffing numbers, based on the strategy and operating model. The task teams would help define current and future talent needs in terms of role profiles on one hand and skills and competencies of persons on the other; while also allowing for the development of a workplace skills plan to cater for the Department’s needs. Recruitment costs could also be predicted, avoiding the current situation where the recruitment budget was depleted by midyear, leading to no further advertising of positions. Lastly, a set of competency assessment tests would be used in conjunction with interviews, to ensure candidates were properly assessed for their suitability. This was one of the issues which came up during the recent Public Service Commission conference, where it was highlighted that other technical skills filters should be used in addition to the interview process.

Mr Mokoena then spoke to a schematic diagram that reflected the basic procedure for determining the organisation’s recruitment strategy. This began with the strategic plan and organisational or business plan, which informed the forecast for human resources demand, along with the analysis of the present human resources. A forecast of a surplus or deficit could be made, followed by development of a human resources plan which included recruitment and placing, core remuneration and performance management.

Ministerial Task Team on HR Matters

The Ministerial Task Team (MTT) was established on 11 February 2013, during a ministerial consultative forum, with recognised trade union partners: POPCRU and PSA. The MTT, comprising four representatives from DCS management, POPCRU and PSA, was tasked with discussing a range of issues to foster a sound union / management relationship. The MTT had made strides in improving this relationship. The initial time frame was until 15 March 2013, but the immensity of the task saw this being extended to 15 June 2013.  Many matters had been resolved by the MTT, but the following remained outstanding:

Second Phase of OSD : There were currently discussions between DCS and DPSA,hi because DPSA was responsible for the OSD policy. The DCS wanted to resolve the matter amicably. Currently, it had been referred for arbitration within the bargaining chamber, by the Labour Court. The main contention was to do with the interpretation of clause 11, on the recognition of experience. OSD was supposed to operate in two phases;  firstly the implementation of OSD salary scales, which was done, but the second phase was only applied to 360 employees, against the initial assessment that 20 000 would be eligible.

Promotion Policy: Mr Mokoena said organised labour had presented a document stating that a promotion policy should be re-introduced into the DCS. The concern was that people remained within the service for a number of years and some dispensation should be in place for their upward mobility within the DCS. This was a challenge, because the promotion policy, which was tenure based, was previously removed from the public service. Currently, mobility was determined through grade progression, subject to performance. This was also possible through applications for progress through the grades. DPSA had indicated that this would not likely be achieved, as tenure based promotion had been abolished and it was not keen to reintroduce it.

Personal Notches: Some  people had been in the system long enough to have reached the top of their salary brackets and if they were given an increase they would fall outside this bracket. These people did not receive any increases, to keep them within their defined salary levels. The proposal was that where a general salary increase was done, they might be given a cash equivalent, although this did not have all the benefits of increased remuneration.

Backdated Overtime: Mr Mokoena explained that from a certain point, DCS had applied a 7-day, 24 establishment for staffing, as opposed to the previous situation, where staff worked from Monday to Friday and those working on Saturday and Sunday staff were eligible for overtime. With the decision to implement a seven day establishment a shift pattern was produced, and overtime was no longer paid as a matter of course, although it could apply when the DCS required additional resources, such as during recruitment campaigns. The current wage bill was around R1.2 billion. There was disagreement between DCS and organised labour, although DCS had worked with labour when it was moving to the 7-day establishment; the negotiations had broken down but DCS believed that organised labour should not resile completely and demand payment. DCS simply did not have the money. Furthermore, there was a problem with records of overtime in the past, and this posed the risk of non-compliance with the Public Finance Management Act.

Control Room Operators: Mr Mokoena said there had been indications of problems, which the Committee may pick up during oversight visits. In 2009, 451 people were employed and took part in a two week training programme to become control room operators. These control rooms then became dormant, leaving these people idle, but due to staff shortages, the area managers started to reassign them to direct security positions. This raised the potential for lawsuits as they had not been trained for these posts, and so DCS took the decision later to expose them to the learnership programme to allow them access to upward mobility through DCS positions. Recently, control room operators who were declared competent had suggested that DCS should have placed them in the learnerships already in 2009. However, the DCS believed that it was not obliged to do so, because they were hired to be control room operators, although the letter of appointment did indicate that upward mobility in the DCS was dependant on people completing a learnership programme.

Housing Allowance: Mr Mokoena said there was a resolution, from a wage agreement, which stipulated that all public service employees would receive a housing allowance of R900. However, there were officials who paid a maximum of R200 all inclusive rent, yet were still seeking to have the difference of R700 paid to them.. DCS argued that since they were already being so heavily subsidised by government, they should not receive the full allowance. DCS and the South African Police Service (SAPS) had sought a joint legal opinion on how to proceed.

Artisan OSD: Mr Mokoena said this was another matter which may be raised during oversight. The complaint was that some artisans were not given a choice when OSD was implemented, as to whether to be in the artisan OSD or the corrections OSD. It was suggested that they should be allowed to choose. However, those who chose to switch to the DCS OSD would still be retained as artisans, until they could be migrated to the corrections OSD, when their artisan posts were filled, to avoid a major drain in this area. The corrections OSD was more lucrative. Another consideration was that during the implementation of the OSD, each correctional official received an amount of R7 500, and this meant that the DCS would be obliged to pay those artisans who did choose to migrate, which would cost around R4.9 million.  The standard arrangement within the MTT was to refer matters to the bargaining chamber and this was still to happen.

Implementation of the Seven Day Establishment (Shift System): Mr Mokoena said the MTT recommended the 2 x 12 shift system as ideal for centre based correctional officials. This system was meant to cover all centre based correctional officials, who would work two days on, three days off, two days on, and then the cycle reversed. The officials would have a 45 hour working week, translating to 12 hours per day. It may well be that at the end of the consultative process in the MTT, a different shift system could result. Whatever system was selected, the MTT believed the way forward was referral to the bargaining chamber for negotiation on working times and averaging of hours. The determination of human resource needs, through the work study, would help DCS to understand how to operate under that shift system. Consultation with relevant stakeholders was important and a roadmap should be developed for implementation of the selected shift system. Funding would have to be secured, if additional resources were required, through reprioritisation or the National Treasury bidding process.

Mr Mokoena noted that the presentation contained other slides which depicted how problems could be resolved - on payment progression, learner absorption, nurse overtime payment and OSD conditions, non-payment of merit awards and leave management.

Organisational Re-alignment
Mr Mokoena said a High Level Structure was adopted in 2012, ensuring alignment with the Correctional Services Act of 1998, White Paper on Corrections and the DCS strategy 2012/13 to 2015/16. This had resulted, most notably, in the creation of the Remand Detention and Community Corrections branches. He noted that consultation took place with all senior management staff and appointments had been made.

He then turned to a table with a snapshot view of the completion rate of the re-alignment at national branch level. Mr Mokoena said the comments in the presentation gave more detail, and he would merely summarise that the office of the National Commissioner was at 50% as there was no regional structure or support office in Cape Town. The Chief Operating Officer was at 90% with a high level understanding having been discussed in the previous structure. Both the Incarceration and Corrections, and Community Corrections levels were at 90% with similar progress. Remand Detention was at 95%, and it had been developed as part of the development of centre organisational structure. The GITO unit was at 90%, to be completed with headquarters. Human Resources was at 50%, as the structure for human resources management had been initiated although no consultations had taken place. Strategic Management was at 60%, with a meeting initiated by the Chief Deputy Commissioner: Strategic Planning. Finance, like all the regions, had not been initiated as yet.

Discussion
The Chairperson said he felt the DCS had a firm grasp of the terrain, knowing what was wrong and the potential solutions. However, it seemed as though the DCS was looking to an outside source to indicate what should in fact be done. As DCS rans the correctional centres on a day-to-day basis, he believed that DCS itself must move forward, rather than relying on government and politicians who came and went. The Committee's approval was not needed for every decision. Decisions should be taken and if mistakes occurred then these could be discussed later. He also felt that DCS was looking for guidance on many operational matters, which posed the risk of the Committee micro-managing the DCS. While there were fraternal departments where there did need to be coordination, the DCS had a specific mandate which could not be ignored for the sake of consultation, and the same applied to labour. He supported the DCS’ efforts with bursaries and internships, but emphasised that it was important to contract them afterwards to ensure the expenses were not a waste. He supported the DCS making submissions to its Minister, and said it should be bold in stating what it felt should be done.

Mr J Selfe (DA) had two areas of concern. The first related to the vacancies, not so much the numbers but how long the positions had remained vacant. He recalled that the Western Cape Regional Head of Corrections post had been vacant since 1 January 2014, and the Director Area Coordinator Development Care: Pollsmoor had been vacant for much longer. He wanted to know what was causing the delay. Even those factors cited by the DCS such as delays from numerous signatories could not account for why the vacancies remained after so long.

Mr Mokoena replied that it was true that there were no challenges with the actual advertising of the posts, but he bottleneck was that there was not the desired level of urgency in the constitution of recruitment panels who actually engaged in the work. Hence, under the guidance of the Acting National Commissioner, the DCS had established cross-functional task teams to take over the responsibility of ensuring positions were filled. The members of these task teams had been identified, the relevant letters of appointment were being signed and work in the regions had begun.

Mr Selfe noted that the MTT received a extension of the deadline for completing the tasks, and he understood that progress had been made by the body. However, the unions had raised persistent complaints that the DCS made agreements in 2007 and 2009, which were not honoured. If the unions' interpretation on overtime was accepted, this gave rise to a contingent liability, which the DCS simply could not afford. The DCS had dug in its heels and was taken to the Labour Court, and he suspected that if the arbitration found against the DCS, it would then proceed to take the matter on appeal. He was not accepting the veracity of the complaints, but wanted to know if this narrative was correct.

Mr Mokoena conceded that it was also true that the DCS was guilty of not adhering to collective agreements as stated by unions, such as the creation of promotion positions. To be able to do this the DCS had put together a bid to fund the process. The DCS was currently going through all the collective agreement to ensure that its responsibilities were being discharged. This point was on the agenda of the current wage negotiation, as unions were requiring implementation of all collective agreements before proceeding.

Mr Selfe pointed out that in relation to the second phase of OSD for correctional officials, the DCS made two statements: firstly, the DCS was seeking buy-in from the DPSA; and secondly, the matter had been escalated to the Minister of Justice and Correctional Services. He asked what form of buy in was required from DPSA, and what would be required from the Minister in this Task Team and what exactly the sticking point was on the OSD, which required such interventions.

Mr Mokoena explained that the responsible department was DPSA and as there were differences in the interpretation of the relevant clause in a collective agreement, the DPSA had to issue an implementation directive to clarify how the clause was to be interpreted. The DPSA was the only department competent to do this, and therefore its buy in was required. If the DCS went ahead to implement the agreement on its own, this would lead to conflict with DPSA. After reaching an agreement with DPSA, National Treasury would have to be approached for funding. The matter was taken up with the Ministers, because they needed to be briefed about the contestation. However, no intervention at the ministerial level was being sought yet, as the DCS was seeking to exhaust the process; Ministerial intervention may be required if this failed. In short, the DCS could not implement a collective agreement which was contrary to a standing implementation directive from DPSA.

The Chairperson asked how long it took to receive responses from DPSA.

Mr Mokoena replied that the responses had been received and the delay arose because of the difference in interpretation and the legal proceedings which followed.

The Chairperson asked if this should not be escalated to the Ministerial level, because this would allow politicians to deal with the concerns.

Mr Mokoena responded that it had been tentatively escalated, informing the Minister that if the DCS failed then he should be on stand-by to intervene. The Department also did not want to begin to set deadlines for DPSA. The discussions had been held, but perhaps if no satisfactory action happened by the end of December, further escalation should take place.

Mr V Smith (ANC) spoke to the vacancy rate,  saying that the 2 609 vacancies translated into a rate of 6.21%. A conservative estimate of the remuneration was R50 000 per annum per post, and that translated to R130 million per annum, because these posts were funded. He therefore wanted to know what happened to the money that was unspent because the posts were not filled. According to the Annual Report, there had been almost 100% spending. He asked whether the funding for these posts had actually been received by the DCS or remained with National Treasury.

Mr Mokoena said the DCS had considered bids for reprioritisation, to avoid returning money to National Treasury, when it realised that there were opportunities to spend the funds elsewhere. In the past financial year, only R47 million was returned, which was not equal to the costs of filling the posts.

Mr Smith appreciated the difficulties on the shift system between the DCS and organised labour. There were approximately 150 000 inmates and 41 000 officials, meaning a ratio of 1 official to 4 inmates, but only if they all worked for 24 hours a day, all week, and if none were administrators. The reality was that the 7-day establishment in fact resulted in a ratio of 1 official to 8 to 10 inmates. This had to be resolved urgently, because no efforts towards rehabilitation or productive occupation could be made in such a context. If the business plan was to reskill and retrain offenders, then the question was whether the DCS actually had the resources to do this.

Mr Mokoena conceded that the ratio under the 7-day shift system was disproportionate. However, the DCS was engaging in a human resources needs assessment, which had to be done anyway, and  this would differentiate between custodial staff and other employees. This would help the DCS to be more specific when determining how many of the various types of staff were required at a particular centre. This would also then allow the proper development of a shift system, to ensure the centres were properly staffed and run efficiently.

Mr Smith asked the Chief Financial Officer to indicate in writing how much money was reallocated for the past two financial years. It was symptomatic of poor planning by the Department, if every year money budgeted for salaries was redirected to services, and the real question was whether the Strategic Plan was properly thought out and drawn.

The Chairperson added sought assurance from the DCS that it understood the problem and that it would not be repeated.

Ms C Pilane-Majake (ANC)  said the PFMA required that there be an approval by Parliament for reprioritisation. Mr Smith had served in the Portfolio Committee on Correctional Services and his remarks now indicated that this Committee had not been faced with requests for approval for reprioritisation from one budget line to another.

Mr Zachariah Modise, Acting National Commissioner of Correctional Services, said he would like to add to the comment on the tendency for the DCS to take cases on review and seek more resolutions instead of simply implementing. He agreed that in the past there was indeed a trend to take matters on appeal or review, and this was why organised labour had charged the DCS with not moving with sufficient alacrity in implementing court decisions or bargaining council resolutions. He said the DCS was now changing and moving to a culture of implementation.

Mr Modise, speaking to the staff situation and whether it was sufficient to implement the shift system, said the present establishment was 42 006, with some staff charged with administration. In some centres, a skeleton staff operated, with few custodial officials. DCS had put in a bid to National Treasury asking for its establishment to be increased to at least 60 000, which would ensure that programmes could be run for inmates.

Mr L Mpumlwana (ANC) said he preferred the word "corrections" to "incarcerations", and while he understood that funds were limited, the emphasis must be on rehabilitation. He asked if the improvements on remuneration of social workers and psychologists brought them on par with counterparts in other departments, which would be necessary to avoid losing staff.

Mr Mokoena said DCS social workers had been on par with their counterparts in other departments since the OSD for social workers was introduced.

Mr Mpumlwana asked for details on the nature of the partnerships with FET colleges, such as what advantages there were for the inmates.

Mr Mokoena said that the partnership aimed to ensure a steady supply of human capital, by removing the requirement for application. For example a partnership was going to be entered into with the East Rand FET College that aimed to expose students to experiential learning in the DCS, which could be used if they were absorbed into the DCS.

Mr Mpumlwana asked why posts were not filled even after being advertised two or three times. He said that temporary workers had not been spoken of, where there was an agreement with the unions and asked about the DCS’s plans in that regard. He understood that the 7-day establishment could result in only half the staff complement being on duty at a particular centre and at a particular time. This posed a security risk to those on duty and he asked for the DCS to sort this out. He did not understand the problems with the control room employees and wanted to know what status was with their initial employment agreements, and their pay at present.

Mr Modise commented that in relation to the parole board, that there was currently a matter between two parole board chairpersons and the DCS being taken on review, since the DPSA was on record stating that the parole board was not constituted properly, nor was the remuneration. The DCS would revert to the Committee with a progress report in this matter.

Mr Modise agreed that the shift system and the resultant minimal staff meant that the DCS’s performance on rehabilitation and employment of offenders was not where it should be. The target was only 60% completed, and management had committed to improving performance here and in the DCS generally.

Mr Modise also conceded that there was a lull in the DCS where it had advertised posts, but filling of posts was taking very long, so interventions had now been put in place to speed up the process of filling of posts following advertising. The DCS could confidently report that, over time, there would be improvements.

The Chairperson said the question of the "old and new culture" was important, as the Ministry should not be judged on the "old" culture. There were some positive developments, and these should be the starting point to assess the Department. Previously, it had been agreed that the security of custodial officials was paramount and the ratio of inmates to officials affected both security and rehabilitation. The staffing concerns needed to be treated as paramount and the DCS could not wait indefinitely for another department, and should rather escalate matters to the Minister now, so that by the next session of Parliament, a way forward had been found.

Mr Mpumlwana followed up, saying that there was an agreement with the bargaining council and DPSA dating back to 2007, which indicated that a person employed temporarily in the public service would receive an extra 37% of salary in lieu of the benefits of permanent employment. This operated in all the other departments, but it seemed that only some people received this at the DCS. Secondly, the Department had been taken to Court, and lost the case, on retrospective remuneration, and he wanted more details on the current attitude and what was being taken on review.

Ms KG Lembethe, Chief Deputy Commissioner: Human Resource Management, DCS, said that indeed an arbitration award was made and the matter had been taken up with DPSA and National Treasury. As the temporary employees were on an all-inclusive package, there was no uniformity. DPSA had been requested to assist and the Minister had had appointed a task team to look into this, together with the HR division from DCS.

Ms Pilane-Majake asked for clarity on what was meant by "all-inclusive salary packages" and whether they included the 37%.

Ms Lembethe said that, according to Resolution 1 of 2007, both the DPSA and National Treasury did not support the payment of the 37%, and this was why all three entities were looking at the merits of the current case.

Ms Pilane-Majake said the question had been about temporary employees, but all-inclusive salary packages were generally paid to senior management, which was why she was confused.

Mr Mpumlwana said that as he understood it, it was agreed that a contract would specify an all-inclusive package of a certain amount, so the 37% would not feature, because of the contract. In this case the argument was that, despite the contract, but due to the bargaining council resolution any temporary employee would receive the additional 37%, and the Court agreed on this interpretation. The matter had been challenged, and the outcome would be reported to the Committee once that process was concluded.

The Chairperson said that the most important point was that DCS understood the challenge and steps were being taken to address the problem. He suggested the Committee should leave it to Mr Modise to ensure the matter was speedily deal with.

The Chairperson said Ms Pilane-Majake had spoken about basic training for all military officials and this reminded him of a project NARYSEC, at the Department of Rural Development. The learnership students, while receiving experiential learning, should also have an interest in the work generated. He encouraged exploring the potential for students to work in DCS, but not at the Department’s expense. This was what the Department of Rural Development had done and perhaps the DCS should investigate this option.

Ms Pilane-Majake said the focus should be on rehabilitation and there were no indications of human resources for rehabilitation, although this was a core DCS function. All correctional service officials were in place for the inmates, and she wanted an indication of what was being done around incarceration, rehabilitation and reintegration. She with agreed the development of technical assessment tests, because this would ensure that whatever posts were filled were filled with people who would add value and contribute to the vision of the DCS. She noted that in the military, no matter what role a person was to play, s/he must undergo basic training. She wondered to what extent a similar effort was made to steep DCS officials in appreciation of care for inmates and the ethos of the institution. While the DCS said that it had engaged in organisational re-alignment, the presentation did not give a sense of the organisational scan done. This would give an idea of the capacity at present and would aid in the re-alignment in a manner that spoke directly to the DCS’ strategy and key performance indicators. At the end of the day, the Committee would like to see that the plan matched the capacity available and the goals of the organisation. A personal skills development plan would also aid in these efforts.

Ms Pilane-Majake also expressed her concern about the R1 billion in overtime owed by the DCS, and she felt that this was supposed to be negotiated as an extra responsibility, rather than their ordinary responsibilities. The time taken for payment was also a concern. She asked if there was a policy for expiry of liability for overtime. She also wanted to know whether the DCS faced similar problems with leave, and wanted to know if there was a system in place which could curb abuse.

Ms Linda Bond, Deputy Commissioner: Human Resources Development, DCS, said personal development plans for officials were part of the performance management agreements. These criteria were used to for workplace skills development. This development was also informed by the strategy of the DCS, which guided the managerial and functional skill development. Learnerships were used to recruit entry level officials and programmes were usually run annually, but this was currently being reviewed. The learnerships served as a means for exposing graduates to the DCS through the internship programme of the DPSA. On average 1 000 interns were taken on, making DCS the leading department in student absorption. She stated, however, that DCS did not use the same approach to basic service training in the military, and only the centre based officials took that training; all other officials were simply trained in line with their functional area and career paths.

Ms M Mothapo (ANC) asked for details around the special workshop which was held on 14 November, listing the challenges identified and interventions adopted. She said the Care Programme of the DCS was "a casualty of the human resources challenges", because scarce skills like psychology still showed a very high vacancy rate. She wanted to know how often the Department publicised the attractive recruitment and retention strategy.

Ms Bond explained that in relation to bursaries, the DCS would, in the first quarter of every financial year, monitor bursary holders in higher education institutions and at the same time would explore marketing opportunities in the relevant faculties and departments of the institutions. These involved informing students about the work of the DCS, the types of skills sought and the fact that there were bursaries available. DCS also partnered with the Department of Rural Development, to target rural schools and specific learners for bursaries.

Mr Mpumlwana reminded the presenters that his questions on skeleton staff as a result of the shift system, and another question on control room operators being used in other work had not been answered. said his question on the skeleton staff in centres as a result of the shift system and on control room operators acting in other capacities had not been answered.

Mr Mokoena said that in terms of the acting positions policy, if a person acted in a different position to their normal post, then s/he would be eligible for that position’s salary. This would have applied to control room operators, who would had been eligible for an acting allowance. In relation to the question on the shift system and numbers of staff, he said that the position varied between centres, and specifics were important, so because he could not comment in depth on the position now, without all the details, he requested that he should send a detailed written response.

The Chairperson reiterated that the DCS should be aware of the potential for the problem and find a solution.

Ms Pilane-Majake indicated that a recent mini-budget speech by the Minister of Finance indicated that there should be a moratorium on all vacant positions, yet the DCS had not spoken to this or indicated its plan to deal with challenges. DCS had expressed concerns about its ability to head-hunt and she indicated that there was a fair and transparent process for engaging in head-hunting already. Further, DCS had also been concerned about advertising positions subsequent to a resignation letter being received, but she thought that as soon as the resignation was formalised, the post should be advertised. She asked how the DCS was dealing with redundant posts, such as the control room staff.  There was a skills development plan as part of the performance agreement, but she asked how the DCS proactively geared skills development in line with its strategy, and the exact duties of officials, and, furthermore, whether anyone was monitoring the skills development.

The Chairperson said that this was the first engagement, and was meant to guide the DCS. Positions should not be adhered to dogmatically and even where head-hunting was barred, it would happen that informally, people would be encouraged to apply. It was important that whatever was done, it was done in good faith.

Mr Mokoena said that head-hunting was allowed; the point was that it must be done in an above-board process. A process had been established for redundant positions, based on a collective agreement. However, even with the Labour Relations Act, alternative placement must be considered within the Department, before the people were pushed out of the system. The control room operators were dealt with in this way, and within the redundancy policy.

Mr Modise said the measures introduced by the Minister of Finance had occurred after the DCS had already effected cost cutting measures, and DCS therefore submitted to National Treasury a plan for implementing in a way that did not speak to the compensation budget. The purpose of the correctional system and work of the Department was contained in the Corrections Act, which talked to remand detention, incarceration and reintegration. These were core DCS operations, but support functions were also required and so it was important, when deciding how to take DCS forward, that it be recognised that it was a department in transformation, and the assistance of the Committee was welcomed. There was still a need to engage with the Minister on the alignment process of the core functions and what support functions were required, but this would allow the DCS to know who should be recruited, and its future direction. He welcomed input from the Committee on the performance of the DCS and its compliance with legislation. Any matters not responded to here would be detailed in writing.

The Chairperson encouraged DCS to put discussions with the Department of Land and Rural Development into action, saying that the network of students could be used effectively in the Minister's "plough-back" campaign. The Committee would be discussing the challenges and interventions further, making its own recommendations as part of oversight.

The meeting was adjourned.


 

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