Nehawu won't budge over protests

(File: AFP)
(File: AFP)

Cape Town - Striking members of the National Education Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu) said they did not recognise any interdict to stop them from protesting at Parliament.

While talks between Nehawu and Parliament's management continued on Thursday, workers were told at a mass meeting in the old National Assembly building management was acting in bad faith.

"Workers were assaulted yesterday [Wednesday] by riot police based on an invalid interdict," Parliament branch chairperson Sthembiso Tembe said after police allowed them in to be briefed.

"In fact that was never valid... because it was temporary. The union was never given an opportunity to oppose it and it had expired."

He was referring to a 2010 interdict revived against Nehawu. Parliament's secretary Gengezi Mgidlana also said on Wednesday another interdict had been obtained, because protesters had allegedly violated the Powers, Privileges and Immunities Act by disrupting the work of Parliament.

One of the protesters said at Thursday's mass meeting they were traumatised to the extent some were feeling sick.

She wanted management to explain why "they called in the riot squad", something she did not think she would experience.

There were also concerns over their next pay packet with one woman saying three days had already been deducted from her salary, in line with the "no work no pay" threat.

Defending Nehawu's actions on Wednesday when they went into a committee room, Tembe said: "It won't help to be gentlemen".

Repeated calls were made for Parliament secretary Mgidlana's resignation, saying he had failed them.

The workers were upset about issues such as how performance bonuses were calculated and, as the protest continued, further issues were raised.

On Thursday Tembe said outsourcing of workers at parliament should also end and they should be permanently employed by the institution.

Another protester said the least they expected was decency from human resources and from the very people for whom they put up election posters.

Tembe also disputed this was the first time Nehawu had a multi-term agreement only renegotiable in 2017.

Members also called for the expulsion of Nehawu members pretending to be off work sick or members telling on supervisors who were at the protests.

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