Parliament, Nehawu agree to 7.5% salary increase, but not for executive management

2017-06-23 22:03
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Johannesburg - Parliament’s management and the National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) have agreed to increase employees' salaries by 7.5% for the 2017/18 financial year.

In a joint statement released on Friday evening, both parties said the increase would take effect retrospectively from April 1, 2017. It would cover employees falling both inside and outside of the bargaining unit, they said.

"Parliament’s management and Nehawu agreed to the 7.5% salary increase as the best position, given the unfavourable economic climate in the country and budget cuts by the National Treasury," the statement read.

The agreement, however, excluded executive management, the parties said.

"The executive management... will not be getting any salary increase for the 2017/18 financial year," they said.

Part of their agreement was also to work together to build "sound labour relations", as well as to address the underfunding of Parliament, they said.

"Collaboration will also include matters of mutual interest that go beyond bread and butter issues."

Negotiations to continue

Both parties have also agreed to continuing negotiations into "other outstanding matters" through already existing institutionalised platforms, which included monthly management and Nehawu meetings, they said.

National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete and National Council of Provinces chairperson Thandi Modise were thanked for providing guidance during the negotiations.

In February, Nehawu members took part in a nationwide campaign which was meant to highlight public sector workers' problems.

During a march to the Treasury's offices in Pietermaritzburg, Nehawu secretary Zola Saphetha said union leaders were worried that many public sector workers were battling to make ends meet because of low wages.

Nehawu wanted better working conditions, a ban on the use of labour brokers, and allowances for workers who operated under difficult conditions.

Nehawu marches in several cities took place as the then-finance minister Pravin Gordhan was tabling his Budget.

Saphetha decried Treasury’s calls for belt-tightening measures and said they were causing more pain for ordinary workers than for elected public representatives and those running parastatals.

In Nehawu’s Parliament branch, the union had been at loggerheads with the then secretary to Parliament Gengezi Mgidlana over pay increases, bonus calculations and new security vetting, as far back as 2015.

'Special' leave

At the height of one its strikes, Mbete had called in the police and stun grenades were fired to break up protests. Protesters also barged into committee meetings.

The union has openly expressed its dissatisfaction with Mgidlana.

Earlier this month, Mgidlana was "granted" special leave following a raft of corruption allegations against him.

Penelope Tyawa was appointed as acting secretary to Parliament in the interim.

Mgidlana was granted special leave by Mbete and Modise.

"The Secretary to Parliament wrote to the Presiding Officers on May 29, requesting to be placed on special leave while allegations levelled against him by Nehawu are investigated," Mbete said at the time.

Mbete reiterated that they had referred several allegations regarding administrative irregularities against Mgidlana to an "independent audit committee" of Parliament for investigation.

She stressed that, "consistent with the principles of natural justice, the Secretary to Parliament remains innocent until proven otherwise".

Negotiating in bad faith

Mgidlana is accused of irregularly - among other things - hiring senior management staff amid a budget crunch, awarding himself an education bursary at the expense of junior staff, and embarking on "wasteful and unauthorised" overseas trips.

Nehawu's Parliament branch said that Mgidlana being granted special leave while an investigation into his conduct gets underway was not enough. 

It wanted his immediate suspension and threatened to bar him from entering his office if he was not suspended by the end of that week.

This call for his immediate suspension came in the middle of wage negotiations between Parliament and the union, after it was announced that Parliament workers would receive a 0% salary increase this financial year.

The branch’s chairperson, Sthembiso Tembe, accused Mgidlana of negotiating in bad faith.

Mgidlana released a statement a week prior to him being placed on special leave, denying the allegations against him, saying no shred of evidence had been produced to back them up.

He said Parliament’s financial management was regularly checked by the multiparty joint standing committee on financial management of Parliament, and annually by the Auditor General, who granted the institution a clean audit in its last report.

Read more on:    parliament  |  nehawu

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