The National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union [NEHAWU] is angered and highly disappointed by the decision of the Vice-Chancellor and Management of University of South Africa (UNISA) to terminate unlawfully the employment contract of our shop stewards.
It is clear to us that the dismissal of our shop stewards was predetermined by the Vice-Chancellor because from the onset when letters of precautionary suspension and intention to institute disciplinary action were issued, the Vice-Chancellor didn’t follow the legal requirement in terms of Schedule 8 of the Labour Relations Act 66 of 1995 as amended which states that “Discipline against a trade union representative or an employee who is an office bearer of a trade union shouldn’t be instituted without first informing and consulting the union” . Indeed, the university management contravened this provision of the law hence we (union) raised the matter in our responses to the precautionary suspension but the VC elected to ignore the matter.
We further wish to record our disappointment to the fact the VC only wrote a letter addressed to the leadership of NEHAWU three (3) days after having served notices of precautionary suspension to our office bearers at the UNISA branch.
Despite the concerns about how the matter of our branch leadership has been handled, the union responded and implored upon the VC to engage in a meaningful consultation with ourselves as a matter of urgency before embarking on the intended disciplinary action against the office bearers and further implored upon the VC to uplift the suspensions in the interim.
In the letter addressed to the union leadership dated 22 April 2022, the national office bearers were encouraged to notice that the VC took cognisance and recognise the importance of NEHAWU’s contributions and work within the workplace community as well as the Recognition and Procedural Agreement currently in place between UNISA and NEHAWU. We further took note of reference to the importance of a healthy and cordial relationship between UNISA and NEHAWU.
We therefore expected the VC on her return from her overseas trip to immediately avail herself to meet with us as we have formally confirmed our availability for an engagement only to be surprised by the abrupt decision to terminate the employment contracts of our shop stewards. This step taken by the UNISA management confirms our assertion that the action was predetermined. Indeed the action of the UNISA management is abhorrent, very highhanded and tantamount to union bashing.
NEHAWU is vehemently opposed to all forms of intimidation and victimization including union bashing. Certainly, the union shall not stand idle while its shop stewards and members are victimized. In this regard, the national union shall be consulting its lawyers to secure a legal opinion on the matter whilst on the other hand will consider mobilizing its members on a cause of action towards the real fight in defence for its members and workers. Further, the national union will do everything in its power to defend its members while on the other hand it will remain open for any engagement with the employer as previously communicated.
Lastly, the national leadership will be meeting its members on Monday 9th May 2022 at UNISA in order to consult on the latest developments and appropriate cause of action.
Issued by NEHAWU Secretariat
Zola Saphetha (General Secretary) at 082 558 5968; December Mavuso (Deputy General Secretary) at 082 558 5969; Lwazi Nkolonzi (NEHAWU National Spokesperson) at 081 558 2335 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org