The National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (NEHAWU) condemns the retrenchments that took place at the South Africa Qualifications Authority (SAQA).

The institution which has a staff complement of 169 workers retrenched 88 workers after the government cut its funding to divert funds away from departments to the South African Airways (SAA) in a bid to resuscitate the ailing national carrier. In the 2020/2021 financial year SAQA had a government grant of R72.5 million but it was cut by R1.2 million by the state.

The retrenchments will lead to delays in verifications of qualifications of job seekers thus leaving them in limbo and create more frustrations for the post-schooling sector. Even before the retrenchments there was a huge problem of understaffing at SAQA which led to a delay in turnaround time of qualification verifications. Moreover, the budget of the Department of Higher Education and Training (DHET) was cut by R1.1 billion at a time when there is scramble for academic access by young people which lead to sporadic protests across the country.

For our members and workers in the Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) and the Community Education and Training (CET) sector who are studying to improve their qualification they will be negatively impacted because the Department of Higher Education and Training uses SAQA to verify their newly obtained qualifications which improves their salaries notches.

NEHAWU will not stand idle while its members and workers are subjected to a life of poverty just to save SAA which has been haemorrhaging state funds for years on end. In this regard, we are going to challenge these retrenchments while engaging the Minister of Higher Education and Training to source funding from the National Treasury to save this important government agency.

The National Union views the cuts at SAQA as part of the broader austerity measures currently driven by our government. These austerity measures have led to massive job losses and a huge drop in service delivery especially to rural areas and townships. The Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) had its 2020/21 budget cut by R90.1 million which has led to the frustration of many workers who require help from the CCMA.

The austerity budget presented by the Minister of Finance on the 24th February 2021 is what underpins the cuts that are taking place including the non-implementation of PSCBC Resolution 1 of 2018 which relates to the salary increase of public servants. The fight against austerity measures should be a societal one as it seeks to rob breadwinners of their sources of income while the quality of service delivery diminishes by the day.

NEHAWU calls on all its members, workers and society at large to join hands in fighting the job bloodbath currently taking place in all sectors of the economy including the public sector. Furthermore, we vow to relentlessly fight retrenchments in all sectors more especially in the public service. In this regard, we call on employers to consider different options of saving jobs and that retrenchments should be a last resort. We will not fold our arms while workers are sacrificed for profits and we will gallantly fight for the job security of all workers across all 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: