NEHAWU 12th National Congress Statement

NEHAWU 12th National Congress Statement

Wednesday November 10, 2021

The National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union [NEHAWU] held a resounding, successful and united 12th National Congress on the 03rd – 06th  November 2021 at Birchwood Hotel in the city of Ekurhuleni under the theme: “Strengthen workplace organisation to defend collective bargaining, deepen class consciousness and advance internationalism”.

Over 594 delegates representing 279 465 members attended the 12th national congress to assess progress made in the implementation of its resolutions since the last congress that was held in 2017.

The congress received valuable addresses from our Alliance formations, including a welcoming address by the Gauteng Premier, Comrade David Makhura. It received messages of support from our allied unions here at home and also abroad. The congress further received inspirational addresses from the World Federation of Trade Unions [WFTU] General Secretary, Comrade George Mavrikos and Trade Union International Public Service and Allied [TUI-PS&A] President, Comrade Artur Sequeira.

Our congress took place during the centenary year of our vanguard party, the South African Communist Party [SACP] and as such during the congress, we held a befitting celebration to congratulate our vanguard party, the SACP for this historic milestone of 100 Years of Fighting for Socialism.

The 12th congress represented a historic moment for the union, in that, we officially launched NEHAWU history book titled: “In the Belly of the Beast” which records in detail the history of our union in the last 30 years as a class-oriented trade union with an internationalist character, a transformative union, and a fighting and militant trade union.

The congress also adopted the reviewed Strategic Policy Framework [SPF]. The SPF is our main strategic perspective that explains our medium-term strategy and goals as they relate to our broad transformative objectives. At the same time, it serves as our principal guideline for our strategies to resolve the immediate workplace challenges that face our members and also the broader working class.

We proudly declare that we had fruitful and robust discussions leading to progressive resolutions being taken. Indeed, we emerged from this congress more resolute and purposeful in our pursuit of our strategic objectives anchored by the clarion call of strengthen workplace organisation to defend collective bargaining, deepen class consciousness and advance internationalism.

Our congress took place whilst the entire world is still confronted with the COVID-19 pandemic. This global public-health crisis has exposed the inability of capitalism to respond to the pandemic, instead the ruling capitalist class has been preoccupied with profit maximisation during a catastrophic moment in the history of mankind.

The working class has had to endure the devastation brought about by this crisis of COVID-19 and also the failures of the inhumane system of capitalism. And this is evident with over 800 million people in the world facing hunger, 220 million unemployed and countless frontline workers, especially public servants, having perished in active duty. The pandemic has indeed exposed the failures of capitalism as a system that prioritises the ruling class [capitalist] at the expense of the working class and the poor. 

The congress agreed that the world is currently confronted by complex and difficult challenges that affirm the inability of capitalism both structural and systemic, to respond to the same crisis it perpetually creates. Capitalism as a system has ran its course and this further solidifies the case for the advancement of a socialist cause.

The congress noted the developments globally as well as on our continent and expressed the imperatives of the international working class solidarity and to strengthen relations with our sister unions as part of advancing internationalism.

On the national political situation, the final analysis of our 12th National Congress was that our National Democratic Revolution has reached a point of stagnation and there’s a concerted and deliberate agenda to derail the NDR from achieving its strategic objectives and at the centre of this stagnation is the ideological direction of our NDR. 

This stagnation of the NDR has led to the current socioeconomic crisis of unemployment, poverty and inequality in our country with no possible solutions. If the solution does not drastically change, our people will run out of patience with the ANC. This is evident with the recent local government electoral turnout and the corresponding fall in the ANC’s electoral support underscore the current untenable and unsustainable Neoliberal trajectory. 

In this regard, the working class must consolidate its leadership position over the NDR by deepening its position through ideological struggle and build its hegemony to take a primary charge of the NDR. The working class must reject and oppose the dominant Neoliberal perspective and narrow nationalistic interests that seek to derail the NDR.

Our congress has further called on to our federation, COSATU, and our vanguard party, SACP, to move with speed in practicalising the joint commitment to building the Left Popular Front to lead struggles of the working class and rural masses for land, housing, water, sanitation, basic income grant and the general service delivery struggles and also strengthen the leading role of working class women in the struggle against patriarchy and gender-based violence and against crime in general.

The congress resolved on the urgent need for the union to campaign for a developmental state that is fundamental based on a progressive model of development capable of driving our transformational agenda which amongst others includes; changing the semi-colonial economic structure, change the neo-liberal economic trajectory, and develop a systematic central planning to coordinated government action around economic priorities that would enhance economic growth and socioeconomic development around a medium-term plan.

Such coordinated action would be mainly geared at realising the identified strategic objectives and outcomes in which addressing unemployment, poverty, gender and inequalities.

Our national congress strongly rejected any attempts of agencification, unbundling, privatisation, of ESKOM and other state entities and has called for rolling mass-actions and the establishment of anti-privatisation broad front.

The congress also noted the impact made by NEHAWU in the terrain of socioeconomic transformation especially with regard to healthcare and post-school education transformation. The congress mandated the union to continue working hard to transform the healthcare and post-education school sectors.

The 12th National Congress has resolved that strengthening workplace organisation shall remain a central focus for the national union in light of the total onslaught on collective bargaining and workers’ rights by the government and employer across the sectors that we organise. This is evident with the announcement by the new Minister of Finance, Enoch Godongwana, that as far as the Treasury is concerned, in the coming 2022/2023 financial year, there shall be no pensionable salary increases for public servants, except the possibility for a 1.5% pay-progression.

This is a total disrespect of the collective bargaining processes and is a serious provocation on workers. Therefore, our congress sends out a clear message to government that we remain resolute in our rejection of the petty allowances in substitution for a real wage increase. That we are a union of workers whose basic reason for existence in the first place is to improve the workers’ salaries, to reduce the rate of exploitation and to improve the conditions of service for the members and public service workers in general.

The primary existence of a trade union is premised on the understanding that collective bargaining and organising is the lifeblood of the union and as such paying a particular attention to this aspect is crucial in our broad vision of strengthening workplace organisation to defend collective bargaining. Our 12th National Congress has resolved and mandated the national union to convene a national bargaining and organising conference next year 2022 in order to develop and review its bargaining and organising strategies in the midst of a rapidly changing terrain of trade union work.

As part of the organisational priority to strengthen the workplace organisation to be capable of representing the interests and aspirations of members at the level of the workplace, education and training shall be at the centre of the union by educating, training and building the capacity of our shopstewards in order to be able to represent and defend members at the workplace.

The congress noted the membership growth of the union since the 11th national congress and called on the union to establish a dedicated recruitment campaign in order to close ranks and defend its base. In this regard, the union will resuscitate its war room as a permanent feature to coordinate recruitment and servicing campaign – satisfy members in our fold in search of those who are outside our fold.

The national union remains committed to a united and fighting Joint Mandating Committee [JMC] of COSATU and therefore, we shall continue to reach out to all the COSATU public service unions to ensure that the JMC retains its proper character as both a collaborative platform for the consolidation of our bargaining demands and for the coordination of our public service mass action campaigns.

Our union emerges from the 12th National Congress more united and determined to implement its programme of action guided by the battle cry of “strengthen workplace organisation to defend collective bargaining, deepen class consciousness and advance internationalism”

The newly elected National Office Bearers of NEHAWU are as follows:

  • President – Cde Michael Shingange
  • 1st Deputy President – Cde Nyameka Macanda
  • 2nd Deputy President – Cde Patrick Makhafane
  • National Treasurer – Cde Kgomotso Makhupola
  • General Secretary – Cde Zola Saphetha
  • Deputy General Secretary – Cde December Mavuso

END

Issued by NEHAWU Secretariat

Zola Saphetha (General Secretary) at 082 558 5968; December Mavuso (Deputy General Secretary) at 082 558 5969; Lwazi Nkolonzi (NEHAWU Acting National Spokesperson) at 081 558 2335 or email: lwazin@nehawu.org.za