NEHAWU statement on government’s decision to move the Country to COVID-19 L0ckdown Level One

The National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union [NEHAWU] notes the statement by President Cyril Ramaphosa announcing the decision by the National Coronavirus Command Council to move the country to Level 1 of the Covid-19 lockdown levels from the 20th August 2020 at midnight as part of government’s Risk Adjusted Strategy.

Once again, as NEHAWU, we hope that the easing down of lockdown regulations which is meant to help economic activity to return will not breed complacency and recklessness as the virus continues to be vicious and deadly. We continue to emphasize our call to all South Africans to continue to exercise and follow best practices and ways to avoid getting infected by the coronavirus including staying at home, observing social distance, wearing masks, and washing hands with soap for 20 seconds or using alcohol based sanitisers.

We call on all South Africans to remain vigilant and play their part in averting new infections. The country cannot afford to deal with a resurgence of the coronavirus like we have seen in many other countries. Our overstretched healthcare system must be assisted by all South Africans by complying and adhering to the orders, regulations and protocols of level 1. Frontline workers across the country continue to work without sufficient Personal Protective Equipment [PPEs] while many employers still do not comply with the Occupational Health and Safety [OHS] Act.

The struggles faced by our members and workers dictates that we continue with the implementation of our programme of action to defend and protect our members and workers including fighting for decent wages and incentives. The speech by the President once more dismally failed to address the urgent demands by workers which includes sufficient good quality PPEs, risk allowance or motivational incentives for frontline workers, and the implementation of Public Service Co-ordinating Bargaining Council [PSCBC] Resolution 1 of 2018 especially clause 3.3 amongst others.

The increase in numbers of people attending gatherings is welcomed as it will allow our members and workers to be able to vent their anger at the way they have been treated by employers including government. This is an opportune moment for workers to respond to the drums of war that employers have been constantly beating. Government has been busy declaring war by insulting workers and refusing to give them what is rightfully theirs including running to court to try declare Resolution 1 of 2018 as unconstitutional, null and void. The ground is more than fertile to fight back the onslaught by government on workers gains and the undermining of collective bargaining. Workers are sick and tired of our non-caring government that does not value their contribution and selflessness.

Furthermore, our people are tired of the lip service by the President and our government. Both corruption and gender based violence continue to rise unabated while the President has made countless promises to curb the scourge of corruption and malfeasance. Those implicated in COVID-19 corruption are still running scot-free while gender based violence victims are not receiving sufficient support. The national union calls for harsher punitive measures for looters and those in government who have facilitated the plundering and pillaging of state resources especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The President needs to move with speed and assiduity in order to avert the waning confidence our people have in our government. Our people do not want any more promises and idle threats. Service delivery must be improved while dealing harshly with those who only see the government coffers as their own piggybank. This is not the time to celebrate and dance for Jerusalema as suggested by the President, but an opportunity for decisive leadership to address all weaknesses exposed by COVID-19 within the state and other sectors of the economy.

Issued by NEHAWU Secretariat Zola Saphetha (General Secretary) at 082 558 5968; December Mavuso (Deputy General Secretary) at 082 558 5969; Khaya Xaba (NEHAWU National Spokesperson) at 082 455 2500 or email: