The Parliamentary portfolio committee on home affairs on Tuesday welcomed the report that the usage of cellphones by front desk staff during working hours is banned after trade unions opposed this.
This follows the call made by the committee early this year calling for the complete banning of cellphones as it impacts on the quality of services rendered to clients.
The National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) had said that the use of cellphones by front desk staff had been the subject of discussions between labour and the employer in the bargaining chamber in order to ensure it is managed without infringing on the rights of workers.
“It is now clear that the usage of cellphones is banned and clients must not be faced with this challenge when they seek services at the department of home affairs,” said Hlomani Chauke, the chairperson of the committee.
The committee last month received numerous complaints from the public about delays at home affairs offices following a video that surfaced on social media showing two officials using cellphones while people waited in a queue at the home affairs offices in Tongaat, KwaZulu-Natal.
The department of home affairs has since issued written warnings to the officials involved even though they were not found guilty of any offence as they were using their cellphones during a power cut at the office.
The committee said it was satisfied by remedial action taken by the department. It also encouraged citizens to continue monitoring and reporting bad service by the department in a bid to identify employees who are undermining the delivery of the department’s mandate.
The department has assured the committee that it has undertaken a review of departmental policy on frontline employees’ cellphone use with relevant stakeholders to strengthen it.
“This is a constructive step aimed at reinforcing the endeavour to deliver quality services,” Chauke said.