Parliament staff urged to cool it
Senior official rebukes union for conduct in the media
THE SECRETARY of Parliament, Gengezi Mgidlana, has called on the National Education, Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu) to stop levelling corruption and maladministration allegations against the institution’s management.
“It is unfortunate that the union leadership has thus far not demonstrated any desire for constructive and meaningful engagement, despite Parliament’s efforts to reach out.
“Instead, it has resorted to distortions, character assassinations and falsehoods in the media,” Mgidlana said.
He decried that serious and damaging allegations of corruption and maladministration were made without evidence being produced.
“Central to the union’s malicious allegations is a claim that the current financial difficulty is caused by financial mismanagement and/ or corruption. This is a deliberately misleading, baseless and unnecessary propagation of untruths,” Mgidlana said.
He made the statement amid uncertainty whether the parliamentary employees would receive salary increases and bonuses this year.
Last week, Nehawu picketed during lunch hour ahead of the tabling of Parliament’s budget vote by Speaker Baleka Mbete.
This comes as the national legislature is saddled with budget cuts that threaten the running of its affairs, including compensation of employees.
Although Parliament requested R3.3 billion for the 2017/18 budget, the National Treasury allocated just R2.2bn.
A total of 300 posts are to be frozen, and salary increases of employees are said to be at risk.
“This anomalous funding model is a matter that is the subject of ongoing discussion between Parliament and the executive, and we are hopeful that it will be resolved soon,” Mgidlana said.
He was confident that the financial situation would be overcome and salary increases paid out.
“Any insinuation that Parliament has decided against salary increments is erroneous and without any factual basis. The prevailing financial challenges confronting the institution cannot be solved by one party alone.”
Mgidlana was adamant that Parliament could overcome the situation it was in with “a constructive union that has an appetite for meaningful engagement”.
“We once again appeal to the staff representatives to return to the negotiating table so that we can, through collective wisdom, explore creative means to salvage the situation.
“It is a standard and common practice anywhere that parties to the bargaining process sit down, thoroughly scrutinise and unpack the finances, and agree on a workable solution.”
He charged that picketing and lobbying for media support would not solve the problems being faced.
“Issues of collective bargaining belong to the bargaining council; it is where issues are thrashed out and resolved.”
Mgidlana also defended himself from reports that linked him to, among others, granting himself a R70 000 bonus and prioritising himself in the awarding of bursaries.
“The peddling of false and misleading information, deliberately to harm and defame fellow colleagues, would only strain employee relations and toxify the entire institution,” Mgidlana said, adding that some of these allegations were the subject of a formal investigation.
Nehawu parliamentary branch chairperson Sthembiso Tembe said they would hold a media briefing today.
“We want to respond in full to the allegations and lies contained in his statement,” Tembe said.