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  |  Affiliates Press Statements

NEHAWU scores major victories for workers at Department of Water and Sanitation

13 March 2018

The National Education, Health and Allied Workers' Union [NEHAWU] after consulting with its members and workers at the picket lines this morning, has decided to suspend its strike action in the Department of Water and Sanitation. Based on the contents of the settlement agreement, members of the national union mandated the leadership to sign the settlement agreement as it is favorable to them as members and workers in general.

The strike action started on the 8th March 2018 in all 53 workplaces of the department after failed protracted negotiations with the department that lasted more than 12 months solely because the department was not negotiating in good faith. As NEHAWU, we are elated to confirm that after just three days of the strike, a resounding settlement agreement was reached in favour of its members and workers in general.

The national union regards this agreement as a victory for workers as it addresses all demands tabled for consideration by the management and the Minister of Water and Sanitation. Both NEHAWU and the department also agreed that there will be cessation of hostilities and no worker will be a victim of punitive measures as a result of participating in the strike. In this regard, both parties will ensure orderly return to work within 24 hours and the no work no pay principle shall not be effected.

At this point, the leadership of the national union wishes to applaud all members and workers who participated in the strike as they demonstrated their collective labour power and the imperatives of unity during the strike action which affirms that "united we stand and divided we fall". We further thank our sister unions across the globe particularly the WFTU affiliated unions who pledged their solidary support to our cause. This confirms that workers' struggles are based on solidarity and collective power as they confirm that injury to one is an injury to all.

The settlement is a victory to workers in that:

  • The Department of Water and Sanitation shall pay the outstanding 68% of merit bonuses and promotion for 2017 on the 30th April 2018 to all qualifying employees. For the purpose of 2017, all employees who received 32% shall automatically qualify. The department will pay the merit bonuses and promotions on or before the 1st August yearly for all qualifying employees and the new cycle performance assessments shall be in line with DPSA regulations.
  • Both parties agreed to implement the signed off new conditions of employment for construction employees. These conditions shall be reviewed every 24 months going forward and this does not preclude any party from tabling a reviewal on any item as and when a need arise.
  • The department shall align all projects based employment contracts to the life span of a specific sub-project phase. Parties shall from time to time meet to discuss contracts at the initiation stage.
  • A Consultative Chamber Task Team will be established by the department bargaining chamber to process issues like Occupational Health and Safety standards in the department, inducting employees at construction on new conditions of employment, transport and accommodation, modalities of insourcing all outsourced services prioritizing the Cleaning and Security, improving working conditions for water control aides/officers and communication challenges at Roodeplaat, remuneration of employees at salary level 1 to 4 who are performing work of higher salary levels. In doing so, this should not result in down grading of these employees, implement NWRI submission on artisans in that implementing OSD resolution 4, transformation of the learning Academy unit in order to change recruitment processes for bursaries including considering institutions of previously disadvantaged communities, modalities of compensating security personnel who worked in excess of 30% overtime and allowances, and arbitrations on equal pay for work of equal value.

The first progress report and recommendations will be tabled at the chamber by 01st July 2018 and a resolution be concluded in the chamber.

  • Parties also agrees to end outsourcing and phased in process shall developed to ensure allocation of projects in construction unit. A proper due diligence exercise will be undertaken to be completed in the next 3 months ending June 2018. The department will continue using the Construction unit and the in-house construction and skills and further commits to ring-fence an operational budget for the construction directorate.
  • Parties have noted that the department has already started implementing the cleaners and groundsmans award. In this regard, the department commits to withdraw the current reviewal application at Labour Court and shall engage labour on modalities of implementing the Tabane and 54 others award. This will affect all affected employees in the department.
  • Remuneration of Security personnel for overtime worked above the 30%, security allowances. This matter will be dealt with by the task team. In this regard, the employer commits to provide security personnel with standard uniforms by 30th June 2018.
  • On the harmonizing and implementation of translations for employees at salary level 9; 10; 11 and 12 parties agree to source an independent legal opinion for proper implementation.
  • All this work must be completed by the 01st July 2018 with the commitment to effectively implement by the 01st August 2018.
  • The department will put on hold all the processes regarding the proposed establishment of the Single Catchment Management Agency. In this regard, parties will revert back to the 2015 decision on the establishment of a steering committee with the view to look at the possible proposal to advise principals on the best model for catchment management.
  • The department is to immediately source an Independent legal opinion on whether to continue or withdraw the disciplinary processes against the 3 DDG's and Chief Director Sanitation
  • The department will re-instate the 28 workers who were unfairly dismissed with immediate effect.

On corruption and maladministration

The national union has written formally to the chairperson of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts [Scopa], Mr. Themba Godi, to make a request for the national union in order to make a presentation to the committee on the corruption and maladministration that has engulfed the department. We are prepared to share all information we have with the committee with the view of exposing those who have nearly bankrupted the department. As mention earlier our information is also with our lawyers for legal opinion in relation to opening criminal cases.

Both corruption and maladministration has led to the department depleting funds meant to undertake its core functions. This is a battle, we are not willing to lose and we shall pursue until the bitter end. As NEHAWU, we are determined to see those
responsible for nearly collapsing the department facing punitive measures.

Once again, we are elated that we have been able to fight and win these gains for workers. This hard won victory is as a result of the hard work put in by the national union since 2016. We commend our members and workers in general for the resilience they displayed during the strike as they remained disciplined and resolute in the picket lines. Indeed, they were struggling for genuine bargain demands and better working conditions. Employers must never take workers for granted and any attempt to treat them with disrespect shall be met with militancy from the union of Bheki Mkhize and Yure Mdyogolo, as the union shall never fight for its recognition at this age of under a democratic government.

Issued by NEHAWU Secretariat

Zola Saphetha (General Secretary) at 082 558 5968; December Mavuso (Deputy General Secretary) at 082 558 5969; Khaya Xaba (NEHAWU Media Liaison Officer) at 082 455 2500 or email: khaya@nehawu.org.za Visit NEHAWU website: www.nehawu.org.za