A government employee, forced to do electrical and maintenance work under a salary scale of a cleaner has been thrown under the bus for complaining numerously.
Segolame Itumeleng, who is suing her then employer, the Ministry of Land Management, Water and Sanitation Services for exploiting her for three years by paying her a cleaner’s salary, was redeployed back to cleaning for raising an alarm on the ill-treatment. She appeared before Gaborone High Court judge, Omphemetse Motumise yesterday where the Attorney General (AG) sought a postponement of the case to June 14, 2018 in an attempt to try and settle the matter.
According to her court documents, Itumeleng started her career as a cleaner at the same ministry in June 2005. In or around 2011, the employee was then enrolled into a vocational course in electrical engineering at Madirelo Training and Testing Centre under the ministry, which she completed in 2012. The ministry was then called the Labour and Home Affairs, . She was then awarded a Class B Trade Test certificate.
“Following completion of the courses above and with her consent, she 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,” read the papers.
Despite the differences in duties and responsibilities as well as in salary scale for the two positions, Itumeleng continued to earn the salary of a cleaner at A3 scale. She stated in the court papers that it was common cause that the salary scale for a Technical Assistant commences at B3 at the Ministry due to the fact that it was a form of skilled labour requiring a certificate at Class B Trade Test level.
Also during her time there, she apparently received on-the-job training in that she participated in a workshop after which she was issued with a certificate in Occupational Health, Safety and Environment, in February 2014.
Shortly after that, she was given another certificate in Health and Safety Policy Development after having successfully completed the course, in September 2014.
“In addition to this, she worked under a more senior officer in discharging her functions.
The senior officer assumed the position of Technical Officer II and did the employee’s performance review of which she was rated highly,” the court papers read.
Accordingly, the employee argued that that this made her eligible to earn at B2 scale, but she continued to receive payment under the A3 salary scale, which is for a cleaner.
Consequent to the numerous complaints the employee made between 2013 and 2015 regarding the amount of remuneration, she was then redeployed without her consent to the Supplies Warehouse to commence work as a cleaner by a letter dated December 9, 2015. The redeployment was to be effective from the December 14, 2015, which her lawyer,Uyapo Ndadi constitutes an unlawful variation of his client’s contract of employment.
Moreover, she submitted that in terms of the Scheme of Service, his client during the said period became eligible for payment at B2 salary scale from August 1, 2015.
The AG in their replying affidavit deposed by a senior manager of Corporate Services under the sued ministry, admitted to most of the content of the employee’s court documents, but said the employee was only redeployed to gain experience not on promotion. “During this time she complained that she was not promoted.
However, her redeployment was simply to assist her in gaining skills as there was no actual available post. That is why she was transferred on her A3 salary and scale,” the affidavit stated.
Subsequently, the AG argued that all they did was try to help the employee gain skills despite being exploited to work duties not under a cleaner scale, but still received a cleaner’s salary as she stated.