Treatment of its members and their health ‘reckless’ during a pandemic.
The National Education Health and Allied Work-ers Unions (Nehawu) has threatened that its members would stop voting for the ANC if its deployees undermined the union in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic.
The union said if the ANC failed to rein in its public representatives the workers were ready to withhold their votes for the party. “We find it abhorrent that 26 years into our nascent democracy we still have public representatives who lack the necessary sense of urgency needed to deal with a pandemic of this magnitude,” said Nehawu general secretary Zola Saphetha.
The Nehawu leadership asked the ANC to caution its deployees in government that the workers’ patience was running thin. Saphetha said the governing party must not take the workers’ electoral support for granted as they might explore other options, come next elections.
“The manner in which the issue of workers’ health and safety has been handled proves that workers are on their own and they need a fighting union on their side to protect them from losing their lives. Nehawu will continue to do what it does best which is to protect its members from reckless, lacklustre and intransigent employers,” Saphetha said.
The union lashed out at Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize and Social Development Minister Lindi-we Zulu, saying they must stop thinking that the struggle against Covid-19 was about them but they must serve the people. The union objected to Mkhize’s decision to talk about the shortage of personal protection equipment without engaging the union. Nehawu said it was the first union to raise the problem of PPEs as far as April, but its proposal was ig-nored at the time.
On behalf of the union secretariat, Saphetha said they expect the minister to engage the union directly.“Nehawu holds a strong view that the two ministers believe the struggle we are currently facing as a country is about them and not about serving the masses from getting infected with Covid-19 and losing their lives.
Their nonchalant response to the attempts by Nehawu to contribute to the fight, including our concrete and comprehensive demands to save workers lives, is a recipe for disaster,” Saphetha said. The union called for a hands-on approach to save the lives of the health frontline workers. “We have constantly underscored the importance of directing efforts to arm frontline workers to deal with the waves of people who need medical help.”
Saphetha accused Mkhize of engaging the union through a third party. He said Nehawu re-fused to deal with the minister via his Ministerial Advisory Committee as that was an attempt to procrastinate while people were dying. – email@example.com
Political editor Eric Naki.
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