MEMBERS of the National Education, Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu) in Kimberley picketed outside the Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe Hospital on Monday, in preparation for the planned full-blown national strike on September 3.
The Regional Secretary of Nehawu, Molemo Molemo, said pickets would continue in all sectors represented by the union throughout this week in order to highlight several challenges faced by frontline workers, including non-compliance with Covid-19 regulations and the failure by the government to implement salary increases.
‘We have noted in various instances the non-compliance of Covid-19 regulations in particular with the provision of personal protective equipment (PPE) for workers, the delay in the establishment of functional Occupational Health and Safety Committees and the failure by the government to increase public servants’ salaries.
‘The demonstrations are aimed at ensuring the safety of all members and are also in response to the employer’s dismissive attitude regarding the safety of the workers,’ said Molemo.
He said the pickets would be conducted during lunchtimes across the Province this week.
‘All branches of the union will join hands during these demonstrations. Pickets will take place throughout the entire region. We will also form motorcades to local clinics and hospitals in the Province to show our appreciation for frontline workers,’ he said.
The Provincial Chairperson of Nehawu, Jacques Cupido, urged all members to abstain from work on the day of the strike.
‘On the day of the national strike, September 3, we call for a total withdrawal of labour from all our members.
‘No member will report for duty on that day. We will be marching to the Office of the Premier where we will hand over a memorandum stating all our grievances. It is time that the cries of the frontline workers are heard,’ said Cupido.
According to Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize, about 240 healthcare workers from both state hospitals and private facilities nationally have succumbed to Covid-19 as they battled in the frontline to save thousands of patients.
With more than 11,000 people having died from the disease in the country, health facilities have seen critical staff shortages.
Health workers have experienced personal protective equipment insufficiency in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Meanwhile, the National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) on Monday said that its strike action at the National Health Laboratory Service (NHLS) would continue indefinitely.
Workers are protesting against staff shortages and the lack of personal protective equipment (PPE), among other issues.
The union said that it was withdrawing labour in the middle of the pandemic in order to get results from government.
Workers gathered at human resources offices and embarked on lunch hour pickets.
They are also claiming that the employer was not complying with occupation health and safety regulations.
‘As Nehawu, we want to confirm that we are going ahead with our mass action across the sectors we’ve organised, which will include a stay away on Friday,’ said Nehawu spokesperson Khaya Xaba.
The South African Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu) said on Monday said that many schools in the country are underprepared for the influx of pupils, many of whom had been at home for five months due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The comments are in stark contrast to assurances given by the Gauteng Department of Education, which said that the further reopening of the sector went ahead largely without any major glitches.
Millions of pupils returned to their desks after a precautionary break in July to deal with a surge in coronavirus cases.
Sadtu said that it is working through reports from its members who have not yet received personal protective equipment (PPE) and additional substitute teachers to assist with implementing Covid-19 health protocols.
Sadtu Secretariat Officer, Xolani Fakude, said: ‘The report that we got from our members, not only Sadtu but including from other unions, indicate we still have a high number of schools that cannot ensure that there is compliance with health and safety protocols.
‘The challenges are administrative and infrastructure based.’
Fakude said that with some pupils returning to the system after five months, more support is needed to help them adjust to the new normal.
‘We’ve got high levels of anxiety on both levels, and there have not been adequate measures put in place to address that,’ he said.
- The South African Federation of Trade Unions (SAFTU) has condemned ‘apartheid tactics’ applied by the bosses of Nature’s Garden who have launched an interdict (banning) application against SAFTU’s GIWUSA (General Industries Workers Union of South Africa) and SAFTU for merely using social media to highlight the demands of workers and the intransigence of the employers.
Over 300 workers who are members of GIWUSA, a SAFTU affiliate, have embarked on protected strike action at Nature’s Garden against the starvation of members.
‘Nature’s Garden has slapped their starving faces with a zero per cent (0%) wage increase,’ said SAFTU.
Workers followed all the procedures as outlined in the Labour Relations Act by referring a mutual interest dispute at the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA), but the matter remained unresolved, and so GIWUSA members embarked on their strike.
The first strike notice issued was that workers are demanding:
- 18% wage increase across the board
- A minimum wage of R10,000 for all employees
- The scrapping of labour brokers
- And the conditions of employment to be equal for all permanent employees
The second strike notice issued was that workers are demanding:
- 15% increase in the day shift allowance as well as a 25% increase for night shift allowance
- Also the rampant and vicarious retrenchment to be reversed since the employer ruthlessly give workers crumbs on their retrenchment packages
The strike action went ahead as planned and was joined by other civil society organisations on a Boycotting campaign against Nature’s Garden.
SAFTU stated: ‘Instead of the employer engaging meaningfully on all the legitimate demands, they then decided to interdict workers and SAFTU based on the flimsiest and most baseless of grounds.
‘The company is interdicting the strike because it is not happy with the GIWUSA and SAFTU media statements, including their use of the social media platforms to draw the attention of the working class and the general public to the plight of workers employed by Nature’s Garden.
‘Instead of improving the offer and engaging with the union members meaningfully, the bosses of Nature’s Garden have chosen to polarise the relationship with the union.
‘SAFTU condemn Nature’s Garden management in the strongest possible way. The verkrampte (conservative or reactionary, especially as regards apartheid) behaviour from bosses will not help solve the dispute but push workers into the trenches.
‘SAFTU is in full support of GIWUSA who have vowed to protect the constitutionally guaranteed workers right to freedom of expression.
‘We are calling all formations to join hands in rejecting this draconian interdict by the bosses.
‘If we allow this to happen, South Africa workers won’t have a right to mobilise for sympathy and solidarity which will lead to the workers fighting a lonely battle that will lead to the defeat of the strike.
‘Collective bargaining will be reduced to collective bargaining. The social surplus value produced by workers will be expropriated without compensation by the few.
‘An injury to one is an injury to all!!!!!!!’
Issued by General Secretary of SAFTU