18 April 2018

South Africa: Nehawu Calls On Sassa to Desist From Victimising and Intimidating Our Members and Workers

press release

The National Education, Health and Allied Workers' Union [NEHAWU] is infuriated by the underhand tactics used by the South African Social Security Agency [SASSA] to force our members and workers to perform duties outside their scope of work.

The national union also notes with disgust the threats including letters of suspension handed to our members who refused to perform duties related to Biometric Enrolment of beneficiaries which was a previous function of Cash Paymaster Services [CPS].

Our members were duped into believing that they were attending a Biometric Identity Access and Management workshop only to find out that they were being trained to perform Biometric Enrolment of beneficiaries which were we not consulted as the union. The training should have not taken place considering that the new function they are forced to perform has an adverse impact on their condition of service.

It must be noted that SASSA is in the current crisis because of the mistakes of the former Minister of Social Development, Bathabile Dlamini, and those who delayed the insourcing of the payment of social grants and the continued reliance on Cash Paymaster Services [CPS]. Because of the lack of readiness by SASSA to take over from CPS they are now resorting to forcing our members and workers to perform some of the duties that were performed by CPS including biometric enrolment of beneficiaries into the system.

The national union will not stand idle while SASSA bullies our members and workers. We are ready for a fight in defense of our members and workers. The union demanded a Human Resource plan through the SASSA National Bargaining Forum of the 13th February 2018 which would have indicated the impact of future grants payments in relation to the conditions of employment where our members are concerned, to no avail. We also demanded that the SASSA Acting CEO, Ms Pearl Bengu, to stop the training related to Biometric Enrolment of beneficiaries and the rolling out of the function to our members on the 23rd March 2018, still to no avail. Thus we have ever since referred a dispute on the 16th April 2018 with CCMA on the Biometric Enrolment of beneficiaries with the aim of stopping both the training and the unilateral implementation of the Biometric Enrolment function.

The national union notes the misleading letter supposedly written to the General Secretary by the acting CEO but sent to SASSA centres across the country creating a false impression that NEHAWU has been addressed in relation to all its concerns with intentions to silence NEHAWU members. Unfortunately, the said letter was responding to NEHAWU internal communication as it was not directed to the acting SASSA CEO. We regard this act as interference with NEHAWU operations which she had no business with.

In this regard, the national union will not fold its arms and watch this valuable institution to the working class being destroyed and also victimising members and workers in the agency through acts of arrogance and intransigent leadership.

As NEHAWU, we call on SASSA to desist from these underhand tactics and properly engage the union to ensure operations runs as smooth as possible at the agency. A national meeting of the union will be convened on the 24th and 25th April 2018 to seek further mandate on a way forward.

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