News 11.9.2018 11:42 am

Department of agriculture slams Nehawu strike action

Mr Senzeni Zokwana, the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries is seen during a press briefing at GCIS, 6 February 2017, Pretoria. Picture: Jacques Nelles

Mr Senzeni Zokwana, the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries is seen during a press briefing at GCIS, 6 February 2017, Pretoria. Picture: Jacques Nelles

The ministry intends to take legal action against the union.

The department of agriculture, forestry and fisheries has come forward to condemn Nehawu’s latest strike action following the fire at the Lisbon building in Johannesburg.

The National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) members abstained from working at any of the eight Gauteng government buildings deemed unsafe in the province after last week’s fire that left three firefighters dead and eight people injured.

The trade union said its members should not be expected to put their lives at risk for a government which has facilities that do not meet health and safety standards reports EWN.

The Lisbon building, which was home to three departments, was only 21% compliant with health and safety regulations.

The ministry in a statement issued by spokesperson Khaye Nkwanyana said: “The ministry takes exception to the fact that a reputable public sector union like Nehawu chooses to disrupt the daily workings of the department including closing entrances and exit points for employees to reach offices through illegal means.”

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The ministry has also condemned the union’s calls for the suspension of the executive authority of the department as it is “a demand that is beyond their reach.”

“We are aware of the behind-the-scene engagements of the union by the most senior in the department for this strike action to be pursued as part of destabilisation to attract public interest,” added the ministry.

The ministry goes on to confirm they have meetings scheduled with Nehawu leadership to discuss matters relating to employee benefits but have also made allegations that the leadership has been captured by “elements” that will oppose the ministry’s stance.

The minister of agriculture, forestry and fisheries has instructed the director general of the department to make an urgent application for a court interdict against the strike.

They have also urged staff to return to work, promising a heavy police presence to ensure the work day goes off without incident.

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