- South African government employees who abuse leave during the 2010 World Cup could find themselves facing an investigation. Trade unions however plan to "close all businesses on Friday."
The warning to South African public servants was sent out by the Ministry for Public Service and Administration ahead of Friday's kick-off of the first-ever Worl Cup on African soil.
The Ministry called "for strict management of leave policies" during the tournament, warning that employees who faked sickness or absconded from work cold face investigations or have action taken against them.
"As the Ministry for Public Service and Administration, we share in the euphoria of public servants and the country as a whole in hosting this soccer spectacle and rallying behind our national team but call upon public servants to be responsible in not abusing leave and to also bear in mind the pledge to serve our people."
"We do appreciate that the tournament is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for all South Africans. As part of the capacity planning for the public service during the World Cup, the Ministry is urging all government departments to adhere to the developed guidelines of leave management within the public service," the Ministry's statement said.
It was up to the heads of department to decide on the approval of leave but they would have to take into account the operations of their departments during the tournament, the statement added.
The Ministry added that there were requests for public servants to be granted leave three hours before games plaid by the South African football team "Bafana Bafana". Once again, that decision was up to the heads of departments, taking into account the relevant regulations.
The Ministry added that specific arrangements would also be made to give all government employees a "fair and equal opportunity for time off" and proper records of this will be kept and recorded as annual leave, it said.
But South Africa's main trade union, COSATU, has already managed to negotiate some holes into the government's strict leave regulations for the World Cup. COSATU spokesman Patrick Craven today announced the union had achieved an agreement with Business Unity South Africa for all businesses to close at 13:00 hours on Friday 11 June, where possible.
"This reinforces the call from COSATU for businesses to allow workers to leave early on Friday to enjoy the World Cup" Opening Ceremony, Mr Craven proudly announced. COSATU added that this agreement would override the caution of the Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry, that companies have no contractual obligations to allow workers off.
"This is not about contractual obligations," Mr Craven said. "This is about a nation co-operating to ensure maximum participation of all South Africans in the proceedings of the World Cup where possible."
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