Cape Town - Workers at Parliament have threatened to “boycott” President Jacob Zuma’s State of the Nation address next week if Speaker Baleka Mbete does not act against Parliament’s human resources manager.
Mbete met staff on Wednesday after members of the National Education Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu) held pickets outside the national legislature this week. She was accompanied by National Council of Provinces chairwoman Thandi Modise and their deputies.
Sthembiso Tembe, Nehawu branch chairman in Parliament, said the union told Mbete that union members would not help in preparations for Zuma’s address if she did not reply to their concerns by Thursday.
Tembe said union members demanded the immediate suspension of Parliament’s executive director for human resources as she was allegedly appointed without the required qualifications.
“We want her to be suspended and an investigation must be instituted into all appointments at Parliament,” he said.
Zuma will address Parliament on Tuesday.
“If our members do not work next week the catering, security and ushers would not be available for the president’s address,” he said.
Nehawu represents 968 of the 1 300 workers in Parliament. Tembe said while he was confident Mbete would respond to Nehawu by tomorrow, their protest would continue.
Parliament spokesman Luzuko Jacobs confirmed Mbete and Modise met staff members on Wednesday. “It was an open meeting and concern was raised about the preparation work for the State of the Nation address,” he said.
Jacobs said Mbete spoke to workers, “but she did not lecture them, she only expressed the importance of next week’s address”. He confirmed Mbete gave the undertaking to respond to the worker’s demands before the end of the week.