Cape Town - Parliament’s presiding officers have until Tuesday May 17 to meet the demands of the National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) before the labour organisation starts mass strike action across the country.
Zola Sapetha, deputy general secretary of Nehawu, demanded in a statement that parliament implement outstanding labour issues and conduct a thorough investigation into a study tour led by Gengezi Mgidlana, secretary to Parliament.
City Press earlier reported that Mgidlana and four of his top staff had spent almost R1m in the UK on a 10-day “benchmarking” exercise in September last year. They travelled business class on SAA and British Airways and stayed in five-star hotels.
The UK benchmarking exercise was meant to have been conducted with Nehawu, according to an agreement signed early last year.
Towards the end of last year, Nehawu went on an unprotected strike that lasted close to four weeks, following grievances about performance bonuses and conditions of service.
The workers returned to their duties after the signing of an agreement, which among other things stated that workers who received more than “3” on their performance appraisals would qualify for a performance bonus.
Nehawu now claims that Parliament had failed to pay out bonuses to some qualifying employees, while the performance ratings of others had been “unilaterally reduced”.
Also at issue is the fact that Mgidlana and a management team went on the study tour instead of “guiding and leading his team” in the CCMA facilitation process with Nehawu to ensure the implementation of agreements reached between Parliament and the union.
Nehawu also said it had been completely “sidelined” with regard to the purpose of and rationale behind the study tour.
The union threatens to broaden its strike action to not only Parliament, but to provincial legislatures across the country.
“At this point, the union calls on all of its members in Parliament and all provincial legislatures to prepare for the battle ahead,” the statement reads.
“Indeed, the union is planning to kick-start its rolling mass-action in the month of June 2016, pending the response of the employer, in particular the presiding officers (of Parliament).”