South Africa 11.11.2015 07:00 am

Nehawu to join parly staff protest

Two SANDF members walk passed a statue of former president Nelson Mandela outside parliament in Cape Town, 11 February 2015. Picture: Refilwe Modise

Two SANDF members walk passed a statue of former president Nelson Mandela outside parliament in Cape Town, 11 February 2015. Picture: Refilwe Modise

Zola Saphetha told the gathering at the steps of the National Assembly that they “must not lose momentum”.

Cosatu’s second largest union has told parliament’s striking workers that it would get its members at all provincial legislatures to join the protest.

Entering the second day of strike action on Tuesday, National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union deputy secretary general Zola Saphetha told the over 200-strong gathering at the steps of the National Assembly that they “must not lose momentum”.

Parliamentary staff members are up in arms over the alleged failure of management to follow through with its signed promises regarding bonus payouts among others.

“We are going to start mobilising provinces in all respective legislature… we won’t tolerate a management that is so insensitive,” said Saphetha.

Saphetha said a notice would be served to parliament’s Speaker Baleka Mbete by days end. Following that, according to labour practices, the institution would then have to meet within the union within three days.

“We won’t attend a meeting attended by acting [speakers or chairpersons] or deputies,” he said.

He also warned that political parties would not be allowed to piggy back and play points by pandering to striking workers.

“It’s an action between an employer and an employee,” he said, to loud cheers from the throngs of red T-shirt clad members.

Workers are protesting that parliament’s management has failed in to effect a bonus agreement it had signed with the union in March.

Staff were also up in arms over the strict vetting conditions for employees. They have argued that the questions that were subjected to answering were intrusive and private and were in no means related to handling of any classified information.

As a result of the industrial action, the National Assembly sitting scheduled for 11am was postponed until 2pm.

DA chief whip John Steenhuisen said Secretary to Parliament Gengezi Mgidlana was letting Nehawu hold the institution hostage.

“Portfolio and select committee meetings on crucial matters such as the water crisis currently crippling our agricultural and sanitation sectors have been suspended [amongst others],” he said.

This was despite assurances by the secretary and Mbete on Monday night that strike action would not affect the business of parliament.

ANC chief whip Stone Sizani’s spokesperson Moloto Mothapo said the party in parliament was concerned that the strike had the potential to impact parliament’s intensive programme.

“We share the view of all chief whips of political parties that parliament management must be given space to engage meaningfully with the representatives of staff to speedily resolve the issues in dispute,” Mothapo said.

Gengezi Mgidlana has said workers breached the agreement which would be rolled over two years and end in 2017.

“We agreed on all of this, and as parliament, we are not prepared to deviate from the agreement.”

He said the parties had agreed to move away from the previous 70% bonus increase.

Nehawu has disputed this.

 

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