The National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union [NEHAWU] a red transformative, fighting and militant union committed to transform both the public service and the public sector has been engaged in an unremitting industrial action since the 6th March 2023.

As NEHAWU, we reiterate our salute to the frontline battlefield soldiers [members] and workers in the public service who heeded the call by the national union to defend collective bargaining. Furthermore, we want to express our appreciation for the solidarity support that we have received from within the ranks of the mass democratic movement, civil society, progressive formations, society and the international community. It is through this support that we remained resolute in the pursuit of our struggle.

Public Service Strike – Reversing Unilateralism and Defending Collective Bargaining

In the last three years, we have seen an unprecedented concerted effort by the government to obliterate collective bargaining and this is evident with them reneging on a signed collective agreement – last leg of Resolution 1 of 2018, the implementation of austerity measures, and the introduction of unilateralism.

This formed the basis and objective of our public service strike action. As NEHAWU, we wanted to address the issue of unilateralism and the attack on collective bargaining since 2020 which escalated with the 2022/23 public service wage negotiations.

Equally, the strike action was against the implementation of austerity measures by government which saw sustained wage freeze in the Public Service since 2020 with the fall in the average wage of public servants in relation to the Cost of Living driven by the employer’s fixation with drastically cutting the public service bill.

Outcomes of the Public Service Strike

It is important that we take this moment to indicate that the strike has registered significant achievements and outcomes.

Firstly, the government has recognised the need to have a Minimum Service Level Agreement (MSLA). In the wake of the strike, the government has now appreciated the urgency of engagement on the draft framework on the MSLA through the Public Service Coordinating Bargaining Council (PSCBC) processes within a six months period. The conclusion of the agreement will ensure a proper balance in adherence to the constitution’s provision on the right to strike and the mandatory requirements regarding the designated essential services. In itself, this is a major step forward arising from the strike as government has consistently refused to align itself with the requirements emanating from the declaration of essential services by the Essential Services Commission in line with the Labour Relations Act.   

Secondly, through the strength of the workers’ power we managed to ensure that the government goes back to the bargaining council to negotiate salary increase for the year 2022/2023 something that up to now government arrogantly thought it was concluded and closed. In this regard, an agreement was concluded on the augmentation of 2022/2023 increment in the Settlement Agreement. The employer has agreed that residual and substantive matters emanating from 2022/2023 wage dispute related to COLA, shall be tabled and positively dealt with and concluded as part of 2023/2024 wage negotiations.

Thirdly, as part of reversing unilateralism, a principle agreement was concluded that government would not resort to unilateralism in the event of a dispute but would explore and exhaust available dispute resolution mechanism within the council processes.  

The strike disclosed the fact that despite their union affiliations, workers in the public service are generally united given the support that we received from workers who are affiliated or belonging to other unions, both in terms of practical involvement in our action but also in terms of messages of support.  

Wayforward on the Public Service Strike

The PSCBC facilitation process that has ensued since the 09th March 2023, has managed to reach a Settlement Agreement. Given this achievement, we wish to confirm that the union is proud and salute its members and workers for waging a relentless struggle, keeping the fierce picket lines and conducting a generally peaceful strike.

Our members and workers have demonstrated their commitment to defend their rights and the collective bargaining, appreciating the dire implications of the persistence of this tendency in the broader public sector as well as the private sector. It is within this background that the union is now announcing the suspension of the Public Service Strike.

To this effect, a PSCBC Special Council on wage negotiations is convened today at 15H00 to process the settlement agreement together with salary adjustment for the financial year 2023/24. Inherently in our culture, we will keep our members informed on the developments.

Lastly, we call on all our members and workers at the picket lines to prepare for orderly return back to work in line with the report back given directly at picket lines this morning. As members return to work, the national union and its structures shall be available to support and intervene in instances of victimisation or intimidation by the bosses in contravention to the latter and spirit of the Settlement Agreement.


Issued by NEHAWU Secretariat Zola Saphetha (General Secretary) at 082 558 5968; December Mavuso (Deputy General Secretary) at 082 558 5969; Lwazi Nkolonzi (NEHAWU National Spokesperson) at 081 558 2335 or email: