Mr Dumisani Hlophe at the National Labour Relations Conference that is currently underway

In today’s rapidly changing world, the role of public service in South Africa is more vital than ever before. As we strive towards building a capable and ethical Public Service, we must recognize the crucial partnership between the state and organized labour in driving the professionalization agenda.

The functionality of the state depends on the professionalization of its workforce. We must prioritize the development of our employees, equipping them with the necessary skills and competencies to deliver better services to citizens. This not only aligns with the increasing expectations placed on the government but also contributes to the overall improvement of the quality of life for all South Africans.

However, we cannot ignore the challenges that lie ahead. The rising cost of living and the shrinking national fiscus present significant obstacles to our goals. Moreover, the emergence of coalition governments and the proliferation of unions add complexity to the labour landscape. Nevertheless, these challenges should not deter us from our mission; instead, they should motivate us to find innovative solutions and foster collaboration between all stakeholders.

The National Labour Relations Conference held on 22-23 February 2022, themed “Growing South Africa together for a capable and ethical Public Service,” provides an opportunity for us to recommit ourselves to enhancing mutual benefits in the public sector workspace. This conference serves as a democratic forum for engagement, where we can reflect on the dynamics of our evolving society and adapt our strategies accordingly.

The purpose of this conference is to determine the meaning and substance of professionalized Labour Relations in the Public Service. We must identify the capacities and capabilities required to establish a professional labour relations framework that aligns with our vision for a capable and ethical public sector.

To achieve this, we must foster a culture of continuous learning and development within our organizations. Investing in the training and upskilling of our workforce will enable them to navigate the ever-changing dynamics of the labour landscape effectively. In addition, we must promote open and constructive dialogue between employers and employees, creating an environment of trust and collaboration.

As we embark on this journey towards a capable and ethical Public Service, it is essential to emphasize the importance of ethics and integrity. Upholding ethical standards and promoting a culture of transparency and accountability will strengthen public trust in our institutions. It is through these principles that we can build a Public Service that is responsive, efficient, and serves the best interests of all South Africans.

The path to a capable and ethical Public Service is not without its challenges, but it is a journey worth undertaking. By embracing the partnership between the state and organized labour, identifying the necessary capacities, and promoting a culture of ethics and integrity, we can create a Public Service that South Africa deserves. Let us seize this opportunity at the National Labour Relations Conference to shape the future of our public sector and work towards a better tomorrow for all.

Mr Dumisani Hlophe is the Acting Deputy Director General of Negotiations, Labour Relations, and Remuneration Management at the Department of Public Service and Administration