The South African Democratic Teachers’ Union (SADTU) strongly condemns the bullying and thuggery conduct of members of the National Health and Education Workers’ Union (NEHAWU) who are on strike.

Striking NEHAWU members attacked teachers and SADTU leaders who were attending a workshop in the Eastern Cape forcing them to join the strike. This abhorrent behaviour and Big Man mentality by members of another COSATU affiliated union is one of the lowest points of our democracy.

In a previous strike in KwaZulu Natal, NEHAWU members assaulted a pregnant SADTU member.

As a union of sober minded education workers who are trying everything within their power to shape the nation, SADTU wants to make it categorically clear that we will not be bullied by anyone or union for that matter during these negotiations.

South Africa is a constitutional democracy and not a banana republic. The lawlessness we are experiencing undermines the essence of unionism. As education workers we equally fought for this freedom and democracy, and we will not stand by the side-lines while it is being eroded

We may be sister unions with NEHAWU through our affiliation to COSATU however, all unions in the Federation are autonomous. They are guided by their constitutions which guide how to set up structures and operations. Even during the season of collective bargaining, we are guided by the same constitution.

When NEHAWU is exercising its right, it must not violate our right and that of our members and leadership. NEHAWU is a bully and has demonstrated how a banana republic is built hiding behind empty revolutionary rhetoric. This rhetoric does not scare us at all because revolutionaries do not kick pregnant women and assault people.

Members of SADTU are not the employer. We will not allow anyone to turn their anger on unarmed SADTU members. We cannot keep quiet nor turn a blind eye when our members are terrorised and harassed by fellow workers.

SADTU has, on many occasions, declared disputes with the employer and embarked on strikes alone. We have never coerced, intimidated and or physically assaulted other workers who exercise their right not to strike

We are a union that prioritizes the unity the workers and have offered solidarity to many of our sister unions in the past. We can never offer our members as sacrificial lambs to anyone. If provoked, we have no option other than to call on our member to defend themselves.

We are guided by the statement of our Federation, COSATU which condemned the use of violence in any strike as it has the potential to weaken the very same strike. It is a sharp weapon which should be used sparingly and appropriately

We view this attack as a declaration of war and we will do whatever is in our power to protect our members, our organisational processes, and our Union. We have reached a point where we have accepted that NEHAWU is an opponent and not a sister union and shall be treated as such. We are not going to tolerate barbaric behaviour in the name of being militant. This is not militancy but anarchy. It is pseudo militancy decorated with lies misleading its members and forcing everyone to accept their lies as the truth because they shout it every day. NEHAWU has long vowed to liquidate SADTU and DENOSA and now we see the agenda.

NEHAWU had the audacity to come and disrupt negotiations at the bargaining chamber and insult other unions negotiating called them yellow unions.

We will answer the call they have made. We have had enough with anarchy. We make no apology about our conviction to defend our organisation. We believe the Federation has a responsibility to unite workers.

ISSUED BY: SADTU Secretariat

CONTACT: General Secretary, Mugwena Maluleke: 082 783 2968

                    Deputy General Secretary, Nkosana Dolopi: 082 709 5651

                    Secretariat Officer, Xolani Fakude: 071 355 1566                    Media Officer, Nomusa Cembi: 082 719 5157