The National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union [NEHAWU] in KwaZulu-Natal [KZN] held its ordinary plenary session of the Provincial Executive Committee [PEC] meeting from the 26th – 27th September 2019. The meeting considered the international context, national political and socio-economic situations including an organizational assessment with a special focus on issues affecting our members and the working class.
The PEC meeting took place after the province successfully hosted the 1st annual NEHAWU games festival which was convened at the Curries Fountain Stadium in Durban under the theme “Healthy mind in the Healthy Body”. The Provincial Executive Committee congratulated the KZN netball team for winning the netball tournament and the Limpopo soccer team for winning the soccer tournament respectively.
On the International Front
The PEC meeting pledged solidarity with the Swaziland public sector workers who are currently on strike for a 7.8% wage increase. The Tinkundla regime has not increased workers’ salaries for the past three years and even during the recent wage negotiations they have pleaded poverty and gave workers a 0% wage increase. As a province that shares a border with Swaziland we will fully participate in blockade at the Golela Border Gate in support of the workers of Swaziland in the few coming days.
The PEC meeting condemned the persisting imperialist attacks on Venezuela by the US and re-affirms its international solidarity with the people of Venezuela in defense of the Bolivarian revolution against US aggression and imperialism.
As part of celebrating the World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU) International Day of Action which is observed on the 3rd October NEHAWU in the province will be convening a picket outside the Pietermaritzburg Natalia Building in defense of our National Health Insurance [NHI] and broader the public health system.
The PEC meeting noted the decline in electoral support of the African National Congress [ANC] and called for a deeper analysis of these results with a view to begin an aggressive campaign towards the 2021 local government elections. The alliance must begin immediately for prepare for an overwhelming victory of the ANC in 2021.
The union in the province will closely monitor the ANC to see if they are implementing the promises made in the manifesto delivered by the President at the 107th anniversary of the ANC held at the Moses Mabhida Stadium on the 12th January 2019. Our support for the ANC in the 6th National General Elections was not a blank cheque, we expect the 6th administration to prioritise workers issues and ensure that workers voices are listened to.
State of Provincial Governance
The meeting further made an analysis of the 6th Provincial Administration, which has certainly started its mandate on a negative footing. As a majority union in the public sector, it is within our interest that we have a government that is working effectively and efficiently to deliver on the key tasks of its election manifesto. We have noted that the new administration has a keen interest and too much concentration on the Human Resources (HR) and Supply Chain Management (SCM) functions across all departments. The concentration on these functions is “done” under the notion of fighting against corruption by the MECs.
The PEC meeting noted with disgust the tone of the new MECs that whenever they talk about workers they have absolutely nothing positive to say about workers. All problems even if they are structural are attributed to workers. This is nothing but lazy thinking. This is done largely to advance their populist agenda through various forms of media so that they are perceived as people who are busy doing something.
The PEC meeting also noted that the MEC of Agriculture and Rural Development Ms. Bongi Moloi continues from where her predecessor left off by targeting our shop stewards and participating in all forms of union bashing in the department. This is precisely because of the number of issues the union has raised in the department since her appointment. The national union calls upon the MEC of Agriculture to repent and change her attitude towards the union otherwise we will be left with no other option but to call for her removal.
Public Health towards the Implementation of NHI
The National Union have been in the forefront in the campaign for the implementation of the National Health Insurance because of our own ideological orientation. The PEC meeting welcomed the developments of the implementation with the following assessment and observations which we view as a victory for struggles waged by the workers and the poor for an affordable and quality health care for all. The NHI will guarantee that all South Africans have access to free, comprehensive and quality healthcare in the country’s health facilities. Access to health is a right enshrined in our constitution.
The province hosted a very successful and well attended NHI Seminar on the 17th September 2019, at UKZN Howard College, as part of the National Health Campaign. The seminar was part of the union’s commitment to take forward the implementation of the NHI and involve all stakeholders in pursuit of this progressive health regime. In this regard, we will be monitor the Department of Health in KZN and ensure that they partake in the implementation of the NHI for the benefit of the working class and the poor.
State of Higher Education in the Province
The meeting noted the escalating violence in our institutions of higher learning especially at the Durban University of Technology where a first year student lost his life after being attacked in a lecture room. Our branch treasurer at the same institution was also attacked by merciless thugs who up to date are yet to face the full might of the law.
Recently, NEHAWU marched and submitted a memorandum calling for the university to immediately address issues of safety and security, however, the Vice Chancellor refused to collect the memorandum.
We, therefore, urge our criminal justice system to ensure a speedy arrest and prosecution of the people responsible for such heinous acts and the university management to increase security measures, across the province, to safeguard the lives of everyone on campus including university property.
The meeting also noted the recent violence that erupted at the University of Zululand and commended the Minister of Higher Education and Training [DHET] for his quick intervention. NEHAWU calls for calm to be restored at the university with immediate effect.
NEHAWU is worried by the continuous victimisation of our members and shop stewards by college principals. In the main, this onslaught is in the TVET College where we enjoy an overwhelming support and majority. This is done is part of the agenda to weaken the union in the sector by these principals working together with the teacher’s union. The colleges that have been leading in this onslaught are eLangeni TVET College; Esayidi TVET College; Mthashana TVET College and uMgungundlovu TVET College.
Post the migration of Colleges into the DHET, NEHAWU has been engaging in a militant action for our members in this sector, which also resulted in a general national strike in early 2019. The PEC calls for the full implementation of settlement agreement without fail. We want to warn the college principals and some Vice-Chancellors that we are going to act and act very decisively to protect our members and further urge the Minister of DHET to intervene as we have an agreement that protects our members from any victimization.
Gender Based Violence, and high levels of criminality
The meeting condemned the rise in acts of violence directed at women and children. Our children are also severely impacted, as a number of our schools and higher learning institutions have become sites of gender based violence, rape and femicide. A multi-pronged strategy is required to deal with this challenge.
We also strongly condemn the acts of violence, looting and other criminal activities seen in recent weeks, mainly in the provinces of Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal, and in other parts of the country. Several shops belonging to foreign nationals were looted and others burnt by criminals. In KwaZulu-Natal, trucks have been used to erect blockades in certain areas of our national roads infrastructure network, thus clearly engaging in acts of sabotage. There can be no justification whatsoever for these and other criminal acts, regardless of what the underlying causes are.
We thus reiterated the call for decisive lawful action to be taken against acts of criminality, including gender based violence, murder, as well as abduction and sexual abuse of young women. These and other forms of criminality are ravaging many households and our communities, and are destroying the future of our youth and society in general.
In conclusion, we wish to invite all workers to participate in the COSATU Section 77 strike that will take place on the 7th of October 2019. We also wish to that our union has indeed grown in the Province and this is thanks to our hard work in servicing our membership. We will continue to fight for workers’ rights and deal decisively with arrogant and stubborn employers who want to silence the union’s role in the workplace.
Issued by NEHAWU KZN PEC For more information contact NEHAWU Provincial Secretary, Cde Ayanda Zulu, at 079 519 5622 or email at Ayandaz@nehawu.org.za