A crisis meeting to arrest ongoing strike action by Parliament employed staff has been adjourned until later today.
Nehawu chairperson in parliament Sthembiso Tembe did not elaborate on any progress made but said the meeting would continue. It had been adjourned “for a while” because the Secretary to Parliament Gengezi Mgidlana had been called “somewhere”.
The meeting between Nehawu and parliament management included the chief financial officer and a representative from parliament’s legal services office.
Protesting has peacefully continued throughout the morning. Copies of the Western Cape interdict reminding workers that they could not disrupt parliamentary proceedings or cause any harm were posted at the entrances to the precinct.
On Wednesday riot police had been called in after directed to by the Speaker of the House Baleka Mbete. This was after workers disrupted committee meetings and ground operations to a temporary halt.
Stun and smoke grenades were used on the crowd and two workers were detained but later released.
Workers downed tools on Monday to protest over parliament reneging on its commitments regarding bonuses and pension pay-outs. They are also demanding the end to outsourcing.
In spite of a late court order declaring the strike illegal yesterday, striking Parliamentary workers have resumed their strike on Thursday morning for a fourth day of action against working conditions.
The branch chairman of the National Eduction, Health and Allied Workers’ Union said it had no intention of heeding the interdict because it was obtained in bad faith.
“We learnt about it in the media and we are not concerned about it. We are not going to respect it because anyway it was obtained in bad faith,” Sthembiso Tembe told ANA as hundreds of workers kept up their noisy protest inside the parliamentary precinct.
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Tembe said the management of the legislature went to court after Nehawu pointed out that an interdict from 2010, which Secretary of Parliament Gengezi Mgidlana had invoked earlier this week, was no longer valid.
He added that a meeting between union leaders and Mgidlana had delivered “nothing tangible” but that a follow-up meeting was scheduled for Thursday morning.
“We will see if that delivers anything in terms of meeting our demands,” he said.
Staff are demanding better salaries and pension benefits, plus an end to outsourcing of services and the process of reviewing security clearance of all who work at Parliament.
On Wednesday, after police fired stun grenades to disperse protesters and hand-cuffed two, Mgidlana told the media that Speaker Baleka Mbete had called the police in because protesters had disrupted at least four portfolio committee meetings and by law the business of the legislature constituted an essential service which may not be jeopardised.