The withdrawal of workers’ voluntary services from the state of the nation address is not a strike or an attempt to disrupt the event, but is a follow-up to last year’s failed wage negotiations.
The National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union has dismissed reports that its members have declared a strike or will be boycotting the state of the nation address.
The union said it signed a wage agreement for an 8.5% increase across the board in April last year, with and agreed to continue negotiations on other matters before the next round of negotiations began.
“Because of the intransigent attitude of the employer, we could not reach an agreement in 2014,” Nehawu said.
“Before the 2014 state of the nation address, our members gave the union a mandate to inform the management they would be withdrawing their voluntary services during the last state of the nation address.”
However, after engagements with management and the presiding officers, the union persuaded its members to continue to volunteer their services.
Negotiations afterwards proved unsuccessful. Nehawu claimed that management had negotiated with them in bad faith.
“The union has received and supports the new mandate from the workers; that those who normally render services voluntarily during the state of the nation address will withdraw those services,” Nehawu said.
“These include services such as singing in the choir, ushering in of guests and catering services after normal working hours.”
Members contractually obliged to work after hours – such as the chamber assistants unit, protection services unit, and ICT broadcasting and visual unit – would report for duty as expected.
“We have been patient and disciplined for almost two years in the hope that the management would deliver on their promise to conclude the 2013-2014 round of negotiations,” Nehawu said.
“We also want to make it clear that we are unwavering in our demands, which include the annual bonus [13th cheque] and many others.”