The National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu), will meet with President Cyril Ramaphosa on Wednesday.

This comes after Nehawu’s leadership protested in front of the Union Buildings in Pretoria and threatened not to support the African National Congress (ANC) in the upcoming elections next year.

Nehawu handed over a memorandum to the Presidency at the beginning of September with a deadline of seven days for action. When that didn’t happen they took the matter to the Union Buildings.

Nehawu demanded adequate Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) for all public health workers, better working conditions, that all vacancies must be filled and the implementation of the last leg of the 2018 resolution for salary increases for three years.

Nehawu President, Mzwandile Makwayiba, says the agreed-upon increase is between 6% – 8% and the last increase was supposed to be implemented by April this year.

“For reasons that is known to government, all of us we learn that government, in fact early as January that government was contemplating not to implement the last leg of the resolution. I don’t have the resolution on me now but it rangers from 6 to 8%. They decided not to do that,” says Makwayiba.

He says collective bargaining is the only power that workers have to negotiate better futures for themselves.

“If government is now not want to implement the collective agreement, it ripped off the transformation and it dealt with many things that most of us believe in. And one of the reasons why we thought we should support the government of the ANC. Now if this is what is being done, surely it’s the end of collective bargaining in this country,” says Makwayiba.

Nehawu members vow not to leave until President Ramaphosa addresses them

Nehawu’s leadership made it clear that it will be difficult to convince their members to support the ANC in the upcoming election next year if their demands are not met. They had a virtual meeting with the top leadership of the ANC.

After that, Minister in the Presidency Jackson Mthembu, came to address them on instructions of President Ramaphosa.

“I spoke to the President and he spoke to the president of Nehawu and an arrangement has now been made for the President to meet with the leadership of Nehawu this week. I’m told that sometime on Wednesday is being negotiated. And they will then raise these issues that needs the attention of the head of state. I’m too small to deal with the issues being raised by our trade union,” says Makwayiba.

Nehawu’s General-Secretary, Zola Sapheta, however, says they will only be happy once their demands have been met. He says they will meet again with the ANC top leadership.

“We were briefing them for the first time formally today, so we are going to get an urgent meeting with them to discuss the details which include among others whether or not they will accept the fact that our members are starting to ask questions whether or not we should support the ANC. And we are preparing a congress now and at congress we will have to entertain this discussion so that we will have an adopted policy position as it relates to who are we supporting,” says Sapheta.

Mthembu says Ramaphosa could not meet the leadership on Monday because he is nursing a cold, but he cleared his diary for Wednesday to discuss their demands.

Nehawu members protest at the Union Buildings