South African Govt, Unions Settle After Public Sector Strike

The National Education, Health, and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu) has suspended its public sector strike after reaching a settlement agreement with the government, GroundUp reports. In a statement, Nehawu called on its members and workers at the picket lines to prepare for an orderly return to work, as they said the strike they embarked on earlier this month had registered significant achievements and outcomes.

The South African National Department of Health gave essential service workers in the health sector until the morning of Tuesday, 14 March, 2023, to report to work. Those who failed to report would be seen to be in contempt of a Labour Appeal Court interdict issued on Monday and will be liable to face charges of misconduct, Daily Maverick reported.

On Monday, March 13, the Labour Appeal Court ordered Nehawu to make sure its members know about the interdict or face legal consequences. A full bench of the court ruled that except for workers in essential services, and some other categories of workers, the workers could continue their strike. The court was critical of the union, of government and of the police.

GroundUp reported that the union had gone to the court to appeal against a March 6 Labour Court order permitting the execution of a previous interdict against NEHAWU's wage strike.

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.

Public sector workers protest in Cape Town on Wednesday March 8, 2023.


Members of the South African Policing Union (SAPU) march through the streets of Pretoria with NEHAWU and other affiliates as they start an indefinite strike on Monday, March 6, 2023.

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