NEHAWU union condemns Nelson Mandela University for refusing to meet strikers’ demands!

NEHAWU members march for better conditions

The National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (NEHAWU)  has condemned the reluctance to meet strikers’ demands, displayed by the management of the Nelson Mandela University (NMU) and the University of Pretoria (UP).

The statement said: ‘As NEHAWU, we are extremely disappointed by the failure of the managements of both NMU and UP to resolve the genuine demands of our members. Both management teams of the two institutions have not demonstrated any empathy to the plight of workers.
‘The strike actions at the two institutions occurred as a result of deadlocked wage negotiations after the management of the institutions rejected the demands placed by our members. This led to the union declaring disputes at the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) and ultimately strike certificates were issued as a result of the talks yielding no results.
‘At Nelson Mandela University (NMU), we placed the following demands amongst others to the management:

  • 10 per cent increase in salary inclusive of CPI (6.9 per cent plus negotiated per cent of 3.1 per cent);
  • Housing Allowance: R1500 for permanent staff and R750 for half day. Housing allowance to increase per year with the CPI percentage;
  • Medical Aid to have a 60:40 per cent split in payment, with the university subsidising the full 60 per cent, due to high fees of the medical aid in the country increasing every year;
  • Harmonisation of Salaries – Equal pay for Equal work.

‘The management of NMU responded with an offer only CPI and 0% on the negotiated portion of our demand. Equally, they did not accede to any of our demands on medical aid and housing allowance. On harmonisation of salaries, they only agreed that it will be dealt with at the task team level.
At the University of Pretoria (UP), the management of the institution demonstrated that they care less about workers after offering workers a below Consumer Price Index (CPI) increase of 4 per cent. As NEHAWU, we had placed the following demands:

  • 7 per cent increase;
  • 13th Cheque;
  • Once-off Bonus;
  • 5 Days Leave Encashment;
  • Long Service Cash Award at 10, 15 & 20 Years.

‘The employer outrightly rejected all our demands and argued that there’s no money due to austerity, yet they gave themselves annual bonuses while preaching “austerity measures” to workers.
‘The austerity measures are applied selectively with annual bonuses for Executive Management, continued outsourcing for the very same services that were insourced, hosting fancy events, senior management enjoying luxury accommodation, travels and restaurants amongst other wasteful expenditures.
‘The management of UP has displayed arrogance since the strike action commenced at the institution, even after the union tried to constructively engage with them to resolve the dispute, they continued with their posture against workers.
‘After the collapse of negotiations, the union met with the Acting Vice-Chancellor and his management team when reviewed proposals were made in order to resolve the impasse, however they were adamant of their position of rejecting our reviewed demands and our proposals.
‘Instead of engaging constructively with the union, the institution went as far as using intimidation tactics on workers through the usage of courts and unleashing police on workers.
‘On Monday, the institution brought an urgent application to the Labour Court stop our strike, as a result NEHAWU, successfully defended the strike, picketing rules and an interim order was granted.
Therefore, the strike remains protected and the rules as agreed upon remain intact.
‘As NEHAWU, we want to send a clear message to the management of the institution that workers will not be intimidated by them.
‘Our members will continue with the strike.’
Meanwhile, hundreds of unemployed doctors, nurses and other health workers marched to the Health Ministry in Pretoria on Monday, calling for the Presidency to intervene in the ongoing financial problems facing the health sector.
One of their main demands is for the health budget to be increased to include about 800 newly qualified medical professionals.
Joining the march, Mandla Matshabe, said he never imagined being unemployed when he completed his community service at Sefako Makgatho University in December last year after studying in Cuba.
‘Now I’m sitting at home with a medical qualification when there is a dire need. It’s appalling to think there are medical professionals at home.
‘Doctors in communities are overburdened because we don’t have enough medical professionals, including physiotherapists and dieticians or everyone in the hospital.’
Deputy President of the South African Medical Association, Dr Nkateko Minisi, said: ‘Other health professionals in the allied sectors, including pharmacy, are here with us to hand over a memorandum to build up the health system.
‘But to do so, we feel that human capital must be optimised by hiring all these unemployed professionals. Not tomorrow, not next week but now! Healthcare is not a privilege that should be enjoyed by some; it is a basic human right that every single person deserves.’

  • The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) has rejected the national Budget for the 2024-2025 financial year as presented by Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana.

The union said it believes the ANC has no intention of solving the economic problems facing workers.
AMCU President Joseph Mathunjwa said: ‘AMCU rejects the 2024-25 budget as presented by the Minister of Finance and we call on all Members of Parliament to vote against it when it is tabled.
‘However, we also know this won’t happen because most political parties support the anti-poor neoliberal measures proposed by the bosses’ minister of finance.
‘This is why we as AMCU not only bemoan this budget but are taking measures to establish a political party for workers and the poor.
‘We are convinced we need an alternative budget which means we need an alternative government.
‘This budget continues with austerity. This, in spite of the injection of R150 billion from the Gold and Foreign Exchange Contingency Reserve Account.
‘But rather than using that money to invest in the needs of the mass of impoverished people, government through the Treasury has decided to invest in the creditors by sinking this windfall in debt repayments.
‘This budget slashes spending in real terms by R21 billion.
‘For example, the budget for learning and culture is cut by R9.8 billion.
‘This happens when our education system needs a complete overhaul and the transformation of the curriculum to develop the skills an industrialising economy needs.
‘Health is cut by R8 billion at a time when huge additional resources are needed for the introduction of the National Health Insurance (NHI).
‘The result will be that teacher-learner ratio will get even worse and the queues at clinics and hospitals will get longer.
‘Through its austerity measures government is systematically reducing not just the size of public sector workers’ wages but reducing the capacity of the public sector as a whole through job freezes and sackings.’