Nehawu not striking at Sassa

2017-03-16 14:51
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Cape Town – Nehawu members at Sassa are not on strike and have no immediate plans to do so, unlike like their colleagues at the Department of Social Development, a union official said on Thursday.

"Our members will not be on strike," Nehawu secretary general Bereng Shoke said.

Although SA Social Security Agency (Sassa) staffers had grievances, no dispute had been declared yet and no notice of a strike had been issued, he said.

This was amid fears that a strike could undermine any last-minute efforts to make sure there is a new social grants payout system or agreement in place to replace the one that expires on March 31.

In 2014, the Constitutional Court declared Sassa’s old agreement with Cash Paymaster Services invalid, but it was allowed to continue until March 31, 2017 to give the department and Sassa time to put a new system in place. With years to do so, nothing happened.

On Wednesday, the court reserved judgment in an application by the Black Sash for it to supervise any new contract, and its implementation, to pay social grants.

List of demands

About 6 000 Nehawu members in the department went on strike on Monday, after talks over their grievances collapsed on Sunday night. They are social workers, childcare workers, managers of homes and care centres, and administrative staffers.

Nehawu spokesperson Khaya Xaba said the union's issues with the department date back to August 2015, and had not been addressed adequately.

Marches around the country on February 10 did not help either.

Their demands include the introduction of an occupation specific dispensation, which sets specific salaries for certain types of workers; the introduction of a rural allowance; for unemployed social workers to be employed permanently; and improved service conditions.

They want youth development centres currently run by the private company Bosasa to be insourced, and for contract employees at the gender-based violence command centre to become permanent employees.

Xaba said Sassa employees had complained about being underpaid, alleged corruption, anti-union behaviour, and nepotism.

At the end of 2015 and the beginning of 2016, the Congress of SA Trade Unions-aligned union brought Parliament to a standstill in a dispute over bonuses.

The department could not immediately be reached for comment.

Read more on:    nehawu  |  sassa  |  protests

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