The National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union [NEHAWU] convened its Special National Executive Committee on Thursday, the 08th July 2021 to finalise its position on the current revised offer by government to the wage demands of public servants and also to map up a way forward.
This Special NEC took place after the union had embarked on a process of consulting its members on the offer that was tabled by government at the PSCBC. Having noted the offer tabled by the employer, our members mandated the union to vehemently reject the offer and further directed the leadership not to sign an agreement of gratuity as it is not the real traditional wage increase. In essence, the union must not sign any agreement that is outside the baseline and not making any improvement to the benefits of workers post retirement or at the time of resignation, as a matter of principle.
On the 6th July 2021, the negotiations at the Public Service Bargaining Coordinating Council [PSCBC] were reconvened to allow the employer to table a revised offer. It is at this meeting that the government tabled another revised and final offer to public servants which was not different from their initial offer. The revised final offer entails the following:
1. Term of the agreement: The employer has agreed to Single Term Agreement from the 01st April 2021 to the 31st March 2022.
2. Cost of living Adjustment
The employer proposed the following:
1.5% pay progression for all employees in the bargaining scope of the PSCBC who would not have received the normal pay progression. The 1.5% pay progression will be effectively from the 01st July 2021.
A gratuity payment that is outside the baseline which will be in place from the 01st April 2021 to 31st March 2022 including a clause in the agreement that will bind the employer to continue to pay the cash allowance until such time it is amended by a new agreement between parties and still not committing on increasing salary notches of the workers. The gratuity will be taxable but not pensionable.
3. Government Employees Housing Scheme
The employer agrees that the advisory board as per the 2017 Resolution must be disbanded and that a Consultative Committee as per the 2015 Resolution must be established. This committee will be tasked to develop and finalise a road map which will lead to public servants accessing houses at minus prime rate amongst others.This committee was finally launched on the 08th July 2021 comprising of representatives from GEPF, GPAA, Human Settlement, National Treasury and PIC as new role players and is expected to meet soon in order to develop terms of reference and a roadmap towards a product that will see workers getting affordable houses.
4. Community Health Workers: The employer has dismally failed to respond to our demand of permanent absorption of Community Health Workers as a result the national union will have to attend an arbitration session scheduled for the 21st July 2021 since the intransigent employer has failed to resolve the matter whilst using these workers in the frontline against COVID-19 pandemic.
After extensive and robust deliberations, the special national executive committee agreed that the union must formally reject this revised offer as there is nothing new from it and declare it as an insult to our members and workers who are at the coalface of service delivery. Explaining the offer for what it is, indeed it remains a cash allowance that doesn’t address the baseline and is non-pensionable. Even the 1.5% they are offering to workers as “new money” which is a misleading statement because the money had already been budgeted for pay progression in 2021.
The special national executive committee further resolved that the union must file a dispute at the PSCBC which we can confirm that has been done this afternoon, Friday, 09th July 2021 in line with the Constitutional Provisions of the Council – NEHAWU has declared a dispute.
In this regard, the union will be embarking in the process of reporting back to its members in order to prepare them for a possible protected strike action if the conciliation process doesn’t yield positive results. Indeed, government has left us with no option other than to use our mass power. At the end, the special national executive committee has adopted a national program of action geared towards defending collective bargaining and the rights of workers against the onslaught of the sixth administration which is hell-bent in reversing the hard-won gains of workers as evident with the government reneging on Resolution 1 of 2018.
Lastly, the unity of workers in general and of trade unions in particular is paramount now more than ever before and as such, the national union will work with other unions from within and outside COSATU to ensure that collective bargaining, rights of workers and their hard-won gains are protected and defended.
Issued by NEHAWU Secretariat
Zola Saphetha (General Secretary) at 082 558 5968; December Mavuso (Deputy General Secretary) at 082 558 5969