The National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union [NEHAWU] convened an urgent special National Executive Committee [NEC] yesterday afternoon via teleconference to discuss the upcoming National Day of Action.

The decision to mobilise for the national day of action was taken after government made it clear that is not willing to honour the last leg of the 2018 public wage agreement especially clause 3.3 of Resolution 1 of 2018. This act of provocation infuriated the union and subsequently led to the decision to organise a march to raise sharply our anger and discontent towards government. This became even more evident at the Public Service Co-ordinating Bargaining Council [PSCBC] meeting convened yesterday where government demonstrated vividly that is not prepared to honour the agreement. At the council meeting the employer proposed that workers must fund the last leg of the increment through pay progression and capped leave.

As NEHAWU, we pride ourselves of being a caring and transformative health sector union. We fully understand the dangers associated with the Coronavirus and the need for all South Africans to act in unison to stem the tide. Indeed, we were the first to raise our hands when called upon to join forces with other stakeholders in combating the spread of the virus and the creation of awareness for both our members and our communities. However, government has been sluggish in collaborating with us and giving us critical answers that we have been asking including not convening a meeting between organised labour and the State President.

Following the announcement of the 21 days nation-wide lockdown and strict measures to combat the spread of the coronavirus the NEC took a decision to postpone the planned National Day of Action scheduled for the 30th March 2020 to a later date to be confirmed soon. In this regard, NEHAWU calls on all its members, many of whom shall be in the coal-face in the fight against the Coronavirus and COVID-19 such as nurses, morgue workers, emergency technicians, doctors, community care workers, dentists, community health workers, paramedics, laboratory personnel, Department of Employment and Labour Officials, Social Workers, Home Affairs officials, SARS and others to focus on this public health emergency.

At an appropriate time, the national union shall make a determination on what is to be done but in the meantime, we demand the following from government:

Ensure the provision of all necessary protective clothing and accessories including sanitisers to our members

Attend speedily to the structural deficiencies of all healthcare facilities especially in the laundry services

Provide protection and transport to our members and workers who will be travelling to work during the lockdown include clear identification for the soldiers and police to recognise them.

Convene an urgent meeting with organised labour as promised by the President

Consider all the proposals that were made by unions in the recent PSCBC council meetings on COVID-19

Honour the PSCBC resolution 1 of 2018 public service wage agreement on the 1st April 2020 and all outstanding issues including the reviewal of resolution 3 of 2009 which was meant to see the abolishment of salary level 1 to 3.

It is needless to say that under the current economic climate and public health emergency the fulfilling of these demands would go a long way in strengthening the fight to save lives both in households and frontline public services.

NEHAWU wants to send a clear message to government that the postponement of the march does not mean the abandonment of our struggle for decent wages and the honouring of collective bargaining agreements. The national union shall do everything in its power to defend and protect its members from the onslaught by government and ensure that they get what is due to them. NEHAWU is more than prepared to ensure maximum protection of its members from the pandemic and to defend the agreement by ensuring that it is implemented fully without any deviation.

During the lockdown, the leadership of the national union shall explore all possible avenues available at their disposal particularly if the agreement is not implemented as it is by the 1st April 2020 and shall use union’s internal forms of communication with its members on the developments if any. At this point, the union wishes all its members and workers in general [those who will be locked down and those who will be working] and the entire South Africans safe from Coronavirus and Nkos’ isikele  iAfrika; Maluphakanyisw’ uphondo lwayo!!!

Issued by NEHAWU Secretariat