The National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) has proposed strike action in response to the government’s refusal to increase salaries.
According to BusinessTech, the wage increases were promised to the government workers, but in February the government asked to review the latest payment agreement because it said it could not afford it.
The current wage agreement is in place until March 2021, when it would usually be negotiated again between the unions and government.
The government cited the COVID-19 pandemic as exacerbating its financial issues, making the wage increase an extra burden.
Nehawu understands that they cannot strike during lockdown but have warned government that their workers plan to strike once they are allowed to do so.
“Government has not only subjected workers to a life of poverty but has also completely killed their morale. However, our members and workers continue to serve our country with diligence during the fight against COVID-19,” said the union.
“The issue of the non-implementation of the salary increase remains a thorny issue that requires urgent solving right away. A caring government would have implemented the agreement to ensure that the morale of workers remains high during this torrid time.”
Strike action is planned for September, with workers threatening to withdraw their labour on September 3. If the government does not resolve the issues, then Nehawu says they will completely withdraw their labour from September 10 until their demands are met.
This is not the only protest planned by the union. It has also said it will go ahead with strikes by healthcare workers who are demanding better protection against COVID-19.
Nehawu spokesperson Khaya Xaba told EWN that they would be going ahead with at least seven demonstrations scheduled nationally over the next two months because government had shown that health workers were on their own.
“The issue of the protection of our members has always been there since the outbreak of the virus, and all our pleas and demands have fallen on deaf ears,” Xaba said.