South Africa: Public Sector Union Vows to Intensify Strike

Public sector strike
13 March 2023

Cape Town — The National Education, Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu) has vowed to intensify the public service workers' strike which began last Monday and caused chaos at public institutions across the country, reports News24 .

Nehawu says the strike follows collapsed wage negotiations, continuous implementation of austerity measures, and the aggressive attack on collective bargaining by the government. Thousands of workers downed tools to force the government to agree to demands for a 10% wage hike. The government has offered 4.7% but the union has rejected the offer, calling it an insult. The week-long protests have been marred by violence and intimidation.

Nehawu Secretary-General Zola Saphetha, said that the government has been arrogant during the wage negotiations. He said that the union will continue with its protests until further notice.

The government continued to show public sector workers the middle finger and displayed high levels of arrogance by disregarding their plight even during the ongoing facilitation process at the Public Service Co-ordinating Bargaining Council, he said.

Meanwhile, Minister of Health Joe Phaahla, says he is disappointed that NEHAWU will be intensifying its strike. According to eNCA, Phaahla  called for peaceful and non-violent action to allow non-striking healthcare personnel to exercise their constitutional right to work without being intimidated or victimised. Phaahla claimed that four people had died as a result of the strike.

Saphetha blamed the government for the countrywide problems resulting from the strike, stating that they had written letters to all provinces - including health departments - a week before the start of the strike, requesting that all provincial health departments meet with representatives of NEHAWU, particularly at the institutional levels in hospitals.

The Labour Appeal Court interdicted any industrial action by trade union NEHAWU, its members and employees. The order is applicable with immediate effect, reports News24.

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