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Picketing education personnel sit around in groups on the sidewalk during working hours earlier on Monday.

Union vows to keep up picket


National Education, Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu) Provincial Chairperson Calvin Tshamano accused the MEC for Education, Ishmael Kgetjepe, of running away and not facing serious problems in his department.
Tshamano, during protest action by members of Nehawu and other unions at the entrance to the Department of Education headquarters in Biccard Street on Monday, told Polokwane Observer they would carry on picketing until the MEC addresses them and sorts out problems with performance management development systems (PMDS) payments for all qualifying employees.
Kgetjepe allegedly met with union representatives last Monday regarding their demands that all qualifying personnel should get PMDS payments and not just 10% as offered by him. A circular dated 3 November 2012 issued by the Department of Public Service Administration stated that all qualifying employees should be paid “as per the 2% wage bill.”
According to a union member the wage bill of all departments should have a 2% built-in excess to enable the departments to pay employees PMDS increments and bonuses,
“This is in clause 18 of the circular. The MEC should exercise his political prerogative, like other MECs had, to pay the 2% wage bill to employees.”
Kgetjepe apparently last Monday offered to meet the unions after two days, but did not pitch for the scheduled meeting at 18:00 on Thursday. Union representatives waited until 20:00, but the MEC’s cell phone was switched off and, according to Tshamano, has been ever since.
Kgetjepe on Thursday also obtained an interdict to prohibit demonstrators from picketing within the department’s premises and they are therefore protesting on the sidewalk.
Union members who last Friday during office hours protested peacefully and dispersed leaving a lot of garbage, resumed their action on Monday.
Tshamano said the picketing will go on and they will be joined by people from the districts too, as they will be mobilised to join in the action. “We will picket until Kgetjepe stops running away. We are very disappointed in him. In crisis after crisis in the department he just chickens out. There is no decisive leadership in the department. People are orderly now, but we cannot be held responsible if they decide they have had enough. The Premier must now come in. We will follow up with all other departments who have not received their PMDS.”
Naledzani Rasila, Spokesperson for the department said: “Negotiations continue to reach amicable solutions to the problem. The meeting on Thursday could not take place due to unexpected eventualities, but we hope to reach an agreement soon.”
He said the MEC’s cell phone is never off.

Story & photo: NELIE ERASMUS