Ne­hawu strik­ers de­fi­ant

Par­lia­ment sec­re­tary branded a ‘dic­ta­tor and lone ranger’

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NEWS - ZENZILE KHOISAN

PAR­LIA­MEN­TARY sec­re­tary Gengezi Mgid­lana yes­ter­day be­came enemy num­ber one for hun­dreds of par­lia­men­tary work­ers, who have de­manded his re­moval for fail­ing to act “in good faith” in the on­go­ing in­dus­trial ac­tion.

He is blamed for the po­lice as­sault on work­ers on Wed­nes­day, when stun grenades were fired at strik­ing staff.

Now there are fears Par­lia­ment’s busi­ness could grind to a halt be­cause work­ers say they will con­tinue protest­ing un­til their de­mands are met.

To rous­ing ap­plause in the packed Old As­sem­bly yes­ter­day their leader, Na­tional Ed­u­ca­tion Health and Al­lied Work­ers Union re­gional chair­man Sthembiso Tembe, de­manded: “Mgid­lana must go.”

He branded Mgid­lana “a dic­ta­tor and a lone ranger who does not lis­ten to any­one”.

Tembe was also ap­plauded when he told work­ers they could go home and wash their Ne­hawu T-shirts so they could be fresh for the strike on Mon­day.” Since the dawn of democ­racy, have work­ers in Par­lia­ment ever been so un­happy?”

He ac­cused Mgid­lana of twist­ing the terms of the agree­ment and ly­ing about the cost of im­ple­ment­ing work­ers’ de­mands.“We can’t con­tinue to speak to some­body who un­der­mines us.”

Tembe called on Na­tional As­sem­bly Speaker Baleka Mbete and Na­tional Coun­cil of Prov­inces chair­woman Thandi Modise to take over the ne­go­ti­a­tions.

The work­ers have been protest­ing in­side the par­lia­men­tary precinct, dis­rupt­ing com­mit­tee meet­ings and fac­ing riot po­lice.

They claim they em­barked on the un­pro­tected strike be­cause Par­lia­ment was not hon­our­ing the spirit and let­ter of an agree­ment signed with Ne­hawu in March.

They were also un­happy par­lia­men­tary vet­ting, pre­vi­ously valid for 10 years, was now be­ing han­dled by pri­vate agen­cies.

The March agree­ment, to stand for two years, in­cludes pay­ment of per­for­mance bonuses, pen­sion pro­vi­sions, recog­ni­tion of employees’ im­proved qual­i­fi­ca­tions, med­i­cal aid cover, long- ser­vice awards, and group life cover. The agree­ment also said per­for­mance bonuses must be based on a per­cent­age of the to­tal pack­age, not just salary.

Ne­hawu rep­re­sents most of Par­lia­ment’s 1 389 employees, mostly white-col­lar employees in the com­mit­tee and doc­u­ments sec­tions, trans­la­tion unit and the par­lia­men­tary pro­tec­tion ser­vices, but also long-term clean­ers.

Mgid­lana main­tains Ne­hawu was rais­ing “new is­sues” out­side the agree­ment, which could only be raised af­ter the end of the stand­ing agree­ment in March 2017.

Yes­ter­day he said the work­ers were in­volved in an “il­le­gal in­dus­trial ac­tion”, and that R50 mil­lion would be re­quired to meet the de­mands.


ON STRIKE: Ne­hawu re­gional head Sthembiso Tembe ad­dresses strik­ing par­lia­men­tary work­ers yes­ter­day in the Old As­sem­bly about their wage dis­pute. He told them to go home and pre­pare for fur­ther protests on Mon­day.

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