South Africa

Ramaphosa and Nehawu to meet on Friday

The National Education Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) said issues pertaining to wage increases for public servants and a lack of personal protective equipment (PPE) for front-line workers are part of the agenda of their meeting with President Cyril Ramaphosa scheduled for Friday.

The meeting was initially scheduled for Wednesday but could not be held as Ramaphosa was recovering from flu. Minister in the president Jackson Mthembu tweeted that as a result the meeting “had to be rescheduled for Friday”.

On Thursday, Mthembu’s spokesperson Nonceba Mhlauli referred questions to Ramaphosa’s acting spokesperson Tyrone Seale, who said only: “We will issue an announcement before the meeting.”

Nehawu’s national leadership’s meeting with Ramaphosa follows their recent protest at the Union Buildings over a lack of PPE gear for health-care workers, and better wages for government employees.

Khaya Xaba, national spokesperson for Nehawu, confirmed that these issues will come under the spotlight during the meeting with the president.

Nehawu, an affiliate of trade union federation Cosatu, held a virtual meeting with the ANC leadership on Monday to raise the same issues, and complained that they were not being treated fairly by the former liberation movement.

The country's third-largest public sector union has threatened to pull out from supporting the ANC during the local government elections in 2021 over the wage issue for public servants.

“We presented our issues to the ANC leadership and they promised to deliberate on them and revert to us. All officials attended the meeting, except the president,” said Xaba.

The government and organised labour have been on a collision course since finance minister Tito Mboweni pencilled in huge cuts to the public sector wage bill in his Budget Review in February.

After that, the state reneged on a wage increase agreement it had signed with the unions three years ago. The matter is now subject to both arbitration and court proceedings.

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