The National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) says that it plans to strike against the government’s refusal to increase public servants’ salaries.
The proposed strike action primarily revolves around the issue of wage increases which had been promised to government workers.
Public wages are set through bargaining with unions and agreements stay in force for three years. The current agreement is in place until March 2021.
However, in February government asked to review the last leg of a three-year pay agreement because it said it couldn’t afford it. The coronavirus pandemic has further exacerbated the country’s financial problems with unions and government now set for a showdown.
Nehawu said that it warned government that the lockdown will not last forever and that at some point it will come to an end and workers will take to the street to vent their anger at the way they have been treated by the same government they helped to put into power.
“Government has not only subjected workers to a life of poverty but has also completely killed their morale. However, our members and workers continue to serve our country with diligence during the fight against Covid-19.
“The issue of the non-implementation of the salary increase remains a thorny issue that requires urgent solving right away. A caring government would have implemented the agreement to ensure that the morale of workers remains high during this torrid time.”
The union added that it plans to undertake major strike action in September against government.
“On the 3rd September workers will withdraw their labour power to demonstrate their discontent if government does not resolve their immediate demands which include salary increase and better working conditions will lead to the complete withdrawal of their labour as from the 10th September 2020 until their demands are resolved favourable to themselves.”
Cosatu spokesperson Sizwe Pamla told the Cape Argus that Nehawu has the federation’s blessings and support for its planned mass action next month. “We want public servants to go on a full-blown strike,” he said.
Pamla added that the government was not acting as though there was a crisis in the country with public servants contracting and succumbing to the deadly coronavirus.