Master’s office staff on strike

2016-02-19 10:30
Staff protest at the Pietermaritzburg Master's office

Staff protest at the Pietermaritzburg Master's office (Ingrid Oellermann, The Witness)

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Pietermaritzburg - Staff at the Pietermaritzburg Master’s office downed tools this week to protest the non-payment of overdue performance bonuses and other issues.

Yesterday the entire staff complement, which The Witness was told consists of between 150 to 200 people, gathered on the staircase as the Master’s office remained closed for the third consecutive day.

The crowd periodically chanted slogans, burst into song, blew on a vuvuzela and held their placards aloft to keep their spirits up. Their placards bore slogans such as ‘#Racism Must Fall’, ‘Gangai must Go’ and ‘Away with Dictatorship’ among others.

They fell silent when the Master of the High Court, Seetarani Gangai, briefly appeared on the steps to address them. However they booed and shouted her down when she informed them that representatives of the national office who were present had promised to deposit outstanding “notch and merit” payments into the staff accounts by no later than March 10. She said anyone who did not get paid or was not happy with their scores, should follow an appeal process.

She declined to provide staff members with a “spreadsheet” detailing salaries and confidential information to which they demanded access.

Lindo Mkhize, a shop steward from the National Education Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) said there are many grievances at the Pietermaritzburg Master’s office, including that the performance payments due last June had still not been paid.

There were also complaints about salary scales, job descriptions, and rampant inequality in the workplace due to alleged racism.

Some staff members told The Witness there were supervisors who earn less than those they supervise, and someone with a degree can earn less than a person with matric — racism being blamed as the root cause.

Mkhize said the staff would not go back to work until Gangai is fired because of her alleged failure to deal with staff concerns, adding they want the national office to address their grievances.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  strike

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