Members of the National Education Health & Allied Worker Union (Nehawu) in Limpopo on Monday descended on the headquarters of the Department of Social Development demanding, among, others, the removal of MEC Joyce Mashamba. The group initially attempted to block Biccard Street in the vicinity of Olympic Towers but were dispersed by Police and then entered the premises with the intention of gaining entrance to the offices.
Protesters alleged that the department was collapsing under Mashamba‘s stewardship and called for the appointment of someone young and energetic instead. They also demanded a review of entry levels for Social Service Professionals and Occupations, introduction of a rural allowance, provision of tools of trade, absorption of unemployed social workers on a permanent basis and improved conditions of service. They also want permanent employment of all contracted workers at the Gender Based Violence Command Centre.
A memorandum submitted to the department stated that Social Service professionals were the lowest paid, yet were expected to give hope and confidence to the development of citizenry. “Unfortunately, workers in this service are not compensated in a dignified manner and valued as critical contributors at the point of service. For instance, the current Occupation Specific Dispensation does not promote the principles of attracting and retaining professionals as a strategy to preserve this precious service in a sustainable manner for social development. As a matter of fact, in its current form, the Social Service professionals retire or die poor hence our demands for the review,” the memorandum read.
“Nehawu members and workers have lost patience with the employer, who expect quality service, while turning a blind eye to genuine issues confronting workers.”
Spokesperson for Social Development, Adele van der Linde said if Nehawu members wanted the MEC to go, they should take their complaint to the Office of the Premier because he was the one responsible for appointing MECs. With regards to the other grievances she said the department had taken note of all grievances contained in the memorandum.
Story & photo: Herbert Rachuene