File image: IOL.

CAPE TOWN - The National Education Health & Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) on Wednesday said that they are preparing for strike action at the National Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS). 

The looming strike comes after negotiations in the Bargaining Council between NSFAS and Nehawu failed miserably. 

“The national union is currently in the process of preparing for a full blown strike”, says Nehawu.

According to Nehawu, NSFAS employees have raised concern over their employment contracts and lack of benefits and have thus made certain demands. 

These demands include:

-Review of CTC salary structure for Level 1 – 12.

-Medical Aid cover subsidy to extend to parents of the NSFAS employees, and of which the employer must pay 100% of such costs.

 -Full-Time employment of workers who are currently on fixed term contracts.

-Review of Organisational Rights agreement to allow representation of workers to extend beyond internal Shop Stewards; cater for Full Time Shop Steward, and Agency Fee Agreement.

-Elevation of lowest paid cleaners from level 2 to level 3.

-Finalisation of Job Evaluations process so as to correct the incorrect tendency of workers paid at lower levels as from 2015.

READ ALSO: The NSFAS free higher education factsheet

Nehawu says that all of these demands were submitted to the employer at the September 20, 2017 bargain council meeting which sat on October 24, 2017. 

According to the union, both of these meetings turned out to be “fruitless exercises, with no hope for a favourable end in sight”. 

NSFAS reportedly demanded more clarity on the submitted demands. 

Since then, subsequent meetings had not materialised. 

The union says that they had made formal communication with management which has only led them to a deadlock. 

NSFAS later elected to change their negotiating team which further delayed the meeting. 

When contacting NSFAS today regarding the intended strike and whether the employees' demands will be granted, NSFAS did not provide a clear answer. 

“We are aware of the reports, and we are still engaging with the union”, says NSFAS CEO, Steven Zwane. 

Meanwhile, Nehawu notes NSFAS’s decision to centralise their application system by making funding more accessible for eligible students. 

However, this will increase the workload of NSFAS employees. 

“As NEHAWU, we reject any extra workload that will be assigned to the current NSFAS staff based at the Wynberg Offices as a result of poor planning by the NSFAS management”, said the union. 

“We hope the employer will put measures in place to avert the strike as it might have dire consequences for the working and the poor”, concluded the union. 

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