Tension mounts at Parliament as Nehawu locked out

2015-11-25 11:48
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 - Parliament locked out striking Nehawu members on Wednesday in line with its vow to avoid further disruptions to the last sittings of the year.

Workers protesting over performance bonuses sang outside the very gates that students had banged and pushed on after clashes with police on October 21 in the #FeesMustFall protest.

- Read more: Parliament takes the gloves off in Nehawu strike

Police vans were parked nearby and officers hung back as the crowd outside 100 Plein Street grew.

A long queue snaked out of the visitors' centre because police and Parliament officials were consulting a list and letting people in one by one.

They would not tell News24 who was on the list - whether it was striking Nehawu members - or people with prearranged business.

People were heard complaining: ''Where did they get those names? Who gave them to them?"

Some people tried name-dropping at the front of the queue, but the officials did not budge.

Speaker Baleka Mbete said on Tuesday night that "all legal instruments available would be used" to make sure business carried on as usual.

She was upset that workers had entered the National Assembly on Tuesday, forcing it to stop, and had thrown food and broken crockery during a committee meeting.

Workers sing with gusto

Parliament reacted with two interdicts, and the lock-out seemed to be in line with Mbete saying she would reconsider an earlier arrangement that strikers be allowed to meet on the precinct.

A briefing by Science and Technology Minister Naledi Pando was the first item to fall away on the day's busy agenda.

Workers put up a show of bravado, singing with gusto at the entrance, but seemed nervous with all the police vans gathering around them.

''I am prepared to die for God, yes. But for money? No,'' said one person.

Workers started their strike on November 6, demanding that Parliament pay performance bonuses on an annual total package, which they said was agreed to in March.

Nehawu won that round and suspended its strike last Tuesday. But on Friday it was back on when they could not agree on the percentage formula to calculate the bonuses.

Parliament says it does not have the money for what workers want.

Strikers have already had pay deducted and on Tuesday a veiled threat was issued that they might even be fired eventually.

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

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