Nehawu to ‘gatecrash’ MEC’s meeting

Published Nov 27, 2023


KwaZulu-Natal Economic Development MEC Siboniso Duma says he is committed to engaging with organised labour after the National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) said it would “gatecrash” a meeting he has planned with his staff.

Nehawu said Duma, who is also the provincial chairperson of the ANC, has been in office for 16 months but attempts to engage with him have been fruitless.

The union last week wrote to Duma – with its note circulating on social media – saying it was growing frustrated with the inability to engage with him.

The letter was in response to a meeting scheduled by Duma between him and all Economic Development, Tourism, and Environmental Affairs (Edtea) entities and their staff scheduled for Tuesday at Midmar Dam in Pietermaritzburg.

“The union wrote a letter in the past few months requesting a meeting with you since you have not met the leadership of the union since your appointment as MEC.

“We were shocked to hear from our shop stewards that you will be meeting our members who are workers of the department and entities without meeting with the leadership of the unions first.

“This is unacceptable, if the meeting proceeds the union will (be) forced to invite itself to that meeting,” Nehawu wrote.

Ntokozo Nxumalo, Nehawu’s deputy provincial secretary, said they were concerned as Duma had been in office for more than a year and there had been no interaction with him.

“We have made several requests to meet because we want to understand his vision for his department.

“He is a politician who is leading workers who belong to a trade union and this is an important discussion.”

Nxumalo said the union was concerned about the meeting in Pietermaritzburg, saying Duma was planning on engaging workers before interacting with them. “That is why we decided to invite ourselves to the meeting.”

He said they had received communication that Duma wanted to meet the union in Durban on Monday but the meeting had not been confirmed.

“This is unprecedented, usually we meet with a new MEC. It is important that she or he take us into their confidence on how they will direct their department and whether there will be continuity or not.

“We have met a number of MECs previously but there is a problem with the current administration and we are facing challenges,” Nxumalo said.

He said the union represented workers’ interests and Duma was the employer of Edtea staff.

Nehawu falls under labour federation giant Cosatu, which together with the SACP and the ANC form part of the Alliance partners.

Nxumalo said their understanding of the alliance was that there were cordial relationships, determined by engagement.

“If the MEC finds the space to meet organised labour, there will be a better relationship between the employer (Duma) and the workers.”

Duma’s spokesperson Ndabe Sibiya said the MEC remains committed to engaging with organised labour “hence he has been participating in the workers’ parliament involving organised labour”.

“All issues raised by organised labour are processed in that forum.

Where necessary, he will engage with organised labour to establish areas of co-operation as he believes that they are a very critical stakeholder that must be engaged on a regular basis.”

He said Duma was “committed to maximise on the strength as we correct weaknesses”.

“He has indicated that there is no issue that cannot be resolved if there is that spirit of cooperation. This must be sustained in order to improve staff morale and ultimately service delivery.”

The Edtea department currently oversees a number of entities, including the Ithala Bank and KZN Ezemvelo Wildlife.

The Mercury

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