Saturday February 10, 2024
The National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union [NEHAWU] welcomes the Labour Court judgement declaring the settlement agreement concluded at the PSCBC in 2023 following the public service strike enforceable.
The public service strike was called off after the parties at the Public Service Coordinating Bargaining Council [PSCBC] through a facilitated process entered into the Settlement Agreement. As NEHAWU, we approached the Labour Court after the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA) on behalf government reneged on the settlement agreement, including the National Department of Health and some Provincial Health Departments violating and contravening the terms of the settlement agreement.
Immediately after the signing of the agreement, firstly the DPSA distanced itself from the agreement by saying in the special council meeting that it knew nothing about the agreement. They further said that they will not enter into any discussions for augmentation of the salaries of public servants with a percentage to be agreed by parties at the PSCBC.
This led to all government departments going out of their way to totally disregard the settlement agreement. Amongst other matters of the settlement agreement, to mention a few, are as follows:
- Parties agree to the cessation of hostilities after the public service strike action
- The employer will implement the “no work, no pay” principle in cases where clear evidence existed that a member willingly participated in the protected strike action. Deductions in respect of no work no pay as a practice shall be made for employees in essential and none essential services as follows:
– Deductions shall be staggered over a period of 4 months
– The formula to determine a day’s work shall be annual basic salary divided by 365 and shall be based on working hours lost.
- The employer commits to augment the 2022/2023 increment with a percentage to be agreed by parties in the current wage negotiations.
The departments went on to disregard the settlement agreement and implemented the “no-work-no-pay” principle selectively to certain members and shop stewards of the union in respect of their remuneration for February/March 2023. They recalled our shop stewards and members’ entire salaries, resulting into our members not being paid any form of remuneration in respect of the days on which they have worked.
We indicated to the departments that withholding salaries of workers is unlawful and in breach of the conditions of service which also amounts to a contravention of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act 75 of 1997 (“BCEA”).
On the augmentation, the DPSA audaciously told the union that negotiations had been concluded and won’t entertain any commitment to augment the 2022/2023 increment with a percentage to be agreed by parties at the PSCBC. This was a clear and deliberate breach of the settlement agreement of our public service strike. Equally, it was a clear demonstration that the departments do not respect the PSCBC as a platform of social dialogue. Hence, we decided to approach the Labour Court to enforce the settlement agreement of the Public Service Strike.
Indeed, as NEHAWU, we are vindicated by the court order as our bone of contention was that settlement agreement was binding to all parties and must be implemented. We therefore call on the DPSA, NDOH and all provincial departments to respect and uphold the spirit of the settlement agreement of the public service strike.
The union welcomes this court order as it protects workers from employers who abuse their powers by undermining collective bargaining processes and simply walk away from binding signed agreements as it happened in 2020 with Resolution 1 of 2018. Equally, this order protects the PSCBC as a platform for social dialogue.
Equally, we call on the government not to commit the grave mistake that they committed with reneging on Resolution 1 of 2018. Failure to comply with agreement will see the union proceeding with contempt of processes.
At this point, we want again to applaud our members and public service workers for remaining resolute and firm in fighting for their rights and defending collective bargaining. NEHAWU wants to assure all its members and public servants that it will do everything at its disposal to enforce the implementation before 2024 national general elections.
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: email@example.com