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Nehawu Chairperson at the Department of Health headquarters branch, Tony Rachuene.

Nehawu will strike until money is paid


Members of the National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) who are currently on strike claim both Health MEC Phophi Ramathuba and Education MEC Ishmael Kgetjepe, were called to Frans Mohlahla House yesterday (Wednesday) to explain to the African National Congress provincial leadership why employees in their departments are not working.
Representatives of the employees were also called in by the Office of the Premier on Monday to discuss their grievances and a follow-up meeting was scheduled to take place before the close of day yesterday.
The protestors are adamant that they will not resume work until all money owed to them as incentives since the 2012/13 financial year has been paid into their bank accounts.
They base their action on a circular from the Department of Public Service and Administration in 2012 saying all departments should keep 2% of their budget to pay as incentives to deserving workers according to their performance. According to the union’s provincial leadership this has not been done by the affected departments and certain other departments too.
Nehawu Branch Chairperson at the Department of Health headquarters, Tony Rachuene and his counterpart at the Department of Education, Lekgema Mankge on Monday afternoon told Polokwane Observer that the workers, despite an interdict obtained against them last week, had resolved to keep on striking until the payments they felt were owed to them have been made.
“We will not resume work until the department has given us the date and proof of the money that has been paid into our accounts,” Rachuene said and added: “We are intensifying the strike.”
Mankge said some workers, in accordance to the Department of Education’s decision to pay a certain percentage of workers in accordance with the 2% wage bill, have been paid. They however received a small percentage of what was owed to them and decided to keep on striking with the other workers, irrespective of the fact that they received some money.
Workers at both the departments resumed their protest on Tuesday.
Department of Education Head of Communications Naledzani Rasila said the department will continue negotiating to find an amicable solution. Health Spokesperson Thabiso Teffo said the department was busy with a process of consulting the Labour Court, as the strike was illegal. He said the principle of ‘No work no pay’ has been in place since last Friday. Asked what outcome the department would like to see he said the court should draw some lines which striking workers should follow. He said most employees were working, and only kitchen personnel and general workers were on strike. Striking workers at the head offices disagreed saying they were mostly officials and not hospital workers.
The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) in Limpopo have in the meantime issued a statement voicing their disgruntlement about matriculants at Ponti High School in Nebo allegedly not having a Physical Science educator for the past two months.
“This high school which is being neglected by Limpopo Education Department because it is a black school. These discrepancies would not be happening had it been a multiracial school,” the statement read.
The EFF called on the Department of Education to address this matter with urgency and appoint a Physical Science educator by the end of this week. “Failure to do so will be consenting to an engagement with the EFF Limpopo that will pay the Department of Education in Limpopo a special visit sooner or later.”

Story & photos: NELIE ERASMUS

Lekgema Mankge, Nehawu Branch Chairperson at the Department of Education headquarters, addresses striking workers at the department on Tuesday.

Striking Nehawu workers at the Polokwane Provincial Hospital.

Protesting Nehawu members employed at Rethabile Clinic underway to the Department of Health headquarters in College Street to continue their protest action.

Striking workers at the Department of Education join hands in prayer before dispersing for the day on Monday.