The National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union [NEHAWU] in the Eastern Cape province is concerned and angered by the misrepresentation of facts in the Statement released by Minister of Employment and Labour, Minister Thulas Nxesi, on the 23rd September 2020.
As NEHAWU in the province, we have submitted complaints to the Department of Employment and Labour, inclusive of both the public and private health institutions as they were operational during the hard lockdown. The officials in the department who are not politicians were doing a splendid job until the involvement and interference of the Minister of Health, Minister of Labour, including the Chief Director Provincial Operations [CDPO] and the Premier of the Eastern Cape. It was at this stage that the involvement of Minister Nxesi reversed all the progress that was made by the officials of his department.
A virtual meeting was convened a day before the meeting at Frere Hospital and our delegation to that meeting was led by Cde Zwelakhe Tywala who is a Regional Secretary received a coerced report and a very strange instruction that the prohibition notice issued has been extended for 60 Days at the behest of Minister Nxesi, the Premier and MEC for Health in the Eastern Cape. This assertion can be confirmed by the statement that was issued by the Office of the Premier that was issued long before that meeting, indicating that there is already an agreement reached with Minister Nxesi.
As NEHAWU, we do not know what is it that Minister Nxesi seeks to achieve by paddling lies. Even in private health his interventions are protecting employers instead of listening to his political conscience as an individual who was nurtured through the Marxist and Leninist theory.
The Branch Executive Committee of Life Healthcare did not find any joy in his involvement on their issues, instead he wanted to run affairs of NEHAWU Branches in a way that is foreign to NEHAWU. A shop steward of NEHAWU was charged and given a final written warning because she refused to work in an environment that was not safe. Our shop stewards ended up contracting COVID-19 as a result and everything he touched, would reverse the little gains achieved by the national union.
The national union is forging ahead with its demand for the creation of health and safety committees in all workplaces because the department and the Minister are dragging their feet in forcing employers to comply with the law. While he is busy peddling lies our members are contracting the virus because of reckless employers.
Employers who are not complying with the OHS Act are not worried because they know that the Minister will not do anything to punish them for exposing workers to unsafe working conditions. The prohibition notices that are issued by the inspectors are withdrawn or extended indefinitely as instructed by the Minister and influenced by the MEC for Health and the Premier of the Easter Cape.
Minister Nxesi has been known for issuing threats to employers in the public domain and later protect the very same employers who are contravening the very same regulations he issues. For him this is just a failed PR exercise but the sad part is that our members and workers are losing their lives because of ignorance and arrogance and he should hang his head in shame.
Issued by NEHAWU Eastern Cape Provincial Secretary
For more information contact the provincial secretary Cde Miki Jaceni at 082 455 2745