ANC is cheating us - Nehawu Parliament strikers

2015-12-01 14:11
Public order police look on at striking Nehawu workers. (Jenni Evans, News24)

Public order police look on at striking Nehawu workers. (Jenni Evans, News24)

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Cape Town - Nehawu said on Tuesday it felt cheated by alliance partner, the African National Congress (ANC), after weeks of negotiations around bonus pay for Parliament workers.

"We are the same people who are campaigning for the ANC, but in return we feel that we are being cheated," said National Education, Health and Allied Workers Union branch chairperson Sthembiso Tembe from outside Parliament's gates.

With no end to the strike in sight, workers were still locked out.

Tembe caused a ripple of delight when he announced that the Ses'khona People's Rights Movement, better known as the "poo protesters", were on their way to join them.

"They are travelling by train, so when they do that they usually carry something with them," said Tembe, hinting at the group's tactic of throwing faeces in public places like Cape Town International Airport to draw attention to social issues.

No positive news

Tembe said the union's president, Mzwandile Makhwanyiba, waited all of Monday in vain for negotiations with Parliament's presiding officers, Speaker Baleka Mbete (who is also ANC chairperson), National Council of Provinces chairperson Thandi Modise, and Parliament secretary Gengezi Mgidlana.

Nehawu's Sthembiso Tembe addresses striking workers (Jenni Evans, News24)

Workers had hoped to have positive news on Tuesday morning as they entered into their 15th day of strike action. Although they kept singing, some said they were worried about how they would get through December and afford stationery and school uniforms for their children.

The union flexed its political muscle, saying it would rally the 235 000 members in the Western Cape to swell the ranks outside Parliament's gates.

Baxolisa Mali, Ikapa south regional secretary of Nehawu, said the strike was not against the ANC, but to improve the lives of workers.

"The very same ANC which we have then voted for in 2014 must begin to show leadership. As much as we belong to this alliance, we are independent," said Mali, who is also a member of the SA Communist Party's regional leadership.

'You put a firepool, we have no money'

He said Mgidlana and other MPs were getting too used to walking around in suits and were forgetting their ideology.

He finished by leading a song, "You put a firepool, we have no money", referring to the over R200m spent on security upgrades at President Jacob Zuma's home in Nkandla, KwaZulu-Natal.

Affiliates to Nehawu's mother body, the Congress of SA Trade Unions, also delivered messages of support and promised to fortify the strike with its own members if needed.

About 30 police officers hung back in a parking garage, with police vans' noses pointing at the group of around 200 people.

Tembe objected to their presence, saying they should rather go out and fight crime.

"We are not criminals. There are people with PhDs among us."

Read more on:    nehawu  |  anc  |  cape town  |  parliament 2015  |  strikes

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