ANC workers demonstrate – two months without pay!

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ANC staff picket outside Luthuli House demanding that the late salary payments and contribution towards pensions be addressed

AFRICAN National Congress (ANC) workers are continuing protesting outside party headquarters at Luthuli House in Johannesburg demanding fair labour practices and salary payments.

The ANC employees downed tools two weeks ago following two months of unpaid salaries.

The party’s serious financial crunch was expected to be discussed in last weekend’s ANC NEC meeting, however, workers say they haven’t received feedback on the matter.

The ANC’s Staff Representative Committee Chairman, Mvusi Mdala, says they are waiting to hear when they will be paid.

Mdala said: ‘It is because we are not getting any joy or response from the employer.

‘They are quiet, as if nothing is happening, but we want to remind them that we still stand with what we demanded on 15th June.

‘The question of salaries is still a big issue to us. We were expecting that we would be formally called to a meeting to discuss the matter.

‘As much as we said it is tools down, even if we wanted to go to work we can’t as there is no money to do so.’

Workers at the ANC haven’t been paid for two months due to ‘cash-flow problems’, according to management at the party’s headquarters at Luthuli House in Johannesburg.

In June, workers marched to the party’s headquarters and handed over a memorandum to acting secretary-general Jessie Duarte who promised that workers’ salaries would be paid on time.

Mdala says non-payment of the salaries has badly affected the livelihood of the workers.

‘We have been in this situation for some time, for more than four years because the employer has not been paying our provident fund, has not been paying our UIF (Unemployment Insurance Fund) whereas they’ve been deducting from us since 2018, therefore we are not convinced that the pandemic and the party funding is as a result of the financial crisis that is facing the ANC currently,’ said Mdala.

The trade union federation, Cosatu, has come out in support of the striking ANC workers, saying it expects the ruling party to conduct itself in an ‘exemplary manner’.

The ANC workers have been on strike since Thursday 26th August following the non-payment of their salaries and have vowed to continue their strike until their demands are met.

The National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) has instituted a litigation process to ensure that the ANC staff receive their money.

A crowdfunding initiative was launched by the ANC with the aim of raising funds that might assist it to pay employees who have not received their salaries.

In June, disgruntled workers took to the streets after staff members were informed in April that their salaries would be late.

Last week, the party’s general manager, Febe Potgieter, indicated that the ANC’s finances were not in a good shape to pay the staff members.

Salaries for July and August were also not paid.

At the weekend, the party shared a post, including banking details, on social media platforms, asking members of the public and ANC supporters to make contributions to a Nedbank account.

ANC’s staff representative chairperson, Mvusi Mdala, last week reiterated that workers would not return to work until they receive their salaries.

The ruling party’s financial woes started in December 2019, and the situation worsened in April and June this year.

Cosatu spokesperson Sizwe Pamla emphasised that the workers are not volunteers, as they have signed contracts.

‘They (the workers) keep their end of the bargain, and the ANC has to honour that.

‘Our union, Nehawu, are assisting those workers on how to facilitate their fight.

‘Nehawu has made it very clear that they’ve been trying to engage with the ANC for some time and also indicated that they will explore legal avenues, if possible,’ said Pamla.

Nehawu’s acting spokes-person, Lwazi Nkolonzi, said with the litigation process, the intention was to look at valuables, such as properties and cars, that could be turned into funds to ensure that the workers got what they were owed.

‘As Nehawu, we find it totally unacceptable in how the ANC has treated these workers.

‘How does the ANC expect these workers and their families to survive during these tough economic times that have brought economic hardship to all workers?

‘The late payment of salaries has resulted in these workers being on the verge of losing all that they have worked for.

‘They face a stark reality of banks/financial institutions repossessing their cars, homes, etc as a result of defaulting on payments brought about by the failure to pay salaries on time by the ANC,’ said Nkolonzi.

Meanwhile, with many of SA’s municipalities on the brink of collapse, also failing to pay workers on time, the Cosatu federation says the ANC has placed it in a difficult position.

Cosatu says it will work hard to regain the trust of workers and voters who are furious at endless government failures ahead of the upcoming local government elections.

Speaking at the ANC NEC two-day strategy meeting last week, the federation cast doubt over the ruling party’s ability to redeem itself after failing to register candidates for the upcoming polls in more than 90 municipalities countrywide.

Sizwe Pamla said: ‘The levels of incompetence are staggering. The elections are in weeks and yet we have not even begun to campaign. We do not have a manifesto, have not launched a single advert, nor begun to canvass.

‘It is clear from our failure to register candidates that our organisation is in a serious crisis.’

The union said there ought to be practical solutions to address several crises which the country was grappling with, including unemployment, Covid-19 and the collapse of key organs of state.

With many of SA’s municipalities on the brink of collapse, also failing to pay workers on time, the federation said the ANC had placed it in a difficult position.

It also slammed the ruling party’s failure to pay ANC staff for two months and pension benefits for several years, saying if the party hoped to survive or win the elections, the issues needed to be tackled immediately.

‘The ANC has put Cosatu in an impossible position. We are a trade union federation and our ally is abusing the rights of workers. This is not an idle accusation it’s a fact. It is unacceptable how the ANC treats its employees. We do not need excuses.’

The issue of corruption is said to have dominated discussions at the ANC NEC meeting with President Cyril Ramaphosa warning that the release of the state capture commission of inquiry report next month would be scathing of the ANC and its government.

Cosatu expressed similar sentiments admitting that state capture was orchestrated by its comrades.

‘Our greatest failing is how we have allowed corruption to explode and entrench itself in every fabric of our lives. It is a disgrace. It is our comrades who are looting.

‘If we are genuine about fixing the ANC, government, the economy and our many challenges, then we must accept responsibility for how we have brought the ANC, economy and SA to its knees.

‘The time for us outsourcing our failures to others must end. Otherwise we must accept that the ANC will die under our watch.’

Cosatu said voters deserved accountability for how far the ANC was in implementing the 2016 and 2019 manifestos, adding that this time around, voters need a manifesto reflective of the state of municipalities and how they will be fixed.

‘We are preparing for our most difficult local elections. What will be our story?

‘Workers are angry at the endless failures of the ANC and government. They are tired of disingenuous excuses. They are exhausted by the factional fights and looting destroying the public services they depend upon.

‘They are furious that two provinces were burned to the ground by comrades. They doubt we will redeem ourselves. It is up to us to earn the trust of workers and voters back.’