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‘The bride is ours!’ This Cape couple went to home affairs as public servants picketed over wages and were embraced in song

Striking public workers sing “umakoti nge wethu” for a couple in Cape Town. Photo:Screenshot/@B_JMitchell

Striking public workers sing “umakoti nge wethu” for a couple in Cape Town. Photo:Screenshot/@B_JMitchell

Published Mar 7, 2023


Pretoria– A Cape Town couple who had gone to Home Affairs to get married were in for a nasty surprise when they were met by striking public servants who could only assist by singing for them “umakoti nge wethu” (the bride is ours), a popular South African wedding song.

The Cape Town couple had gone to the home affairs branch on Monday unaware that public workers were on strike.

In a short video clip, the bride and groom are seen in their wedding clothes and standing in the middle of the picketing crowd as it sings, ululates and claps for them in traditional wedding songs.

Meanwhile, acting Public Service and Administration (DPSA) Minister Thulas Nxesi said employees participating in an unlawful strike would be subject to the no-work, no-pay principle.

Nxesi was speaking in a virtual media briefing on Monday, after National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) members went on strike and ignored an interdict, saying the strike was unlawful.

He briefed the media a few hours after the Labour Court in Johannesburg reaffirmed the original interdict, which was granted on Saturday.

“We have just received a court judgment that has dismissed Nehawu’s appeal of the interdict handed out on Saturday. This further confirms our view that the actions of those striking today are illegal,’’ he said.

Nxesi said the government expects employees to go to work, because the strike has been interdicted.

“Disciplinary action should be taken against those employees who block entrances and embark in an unlawful strike,” Nxesi said.

Nxesi urged all departments to put measures in place and mitigate any setback that will be caused by the strike and pleaded with unions to resolve the dispute through negotiations.

“I urge all the departments to put the necessary processes, procedures and contingency strike management plans to effectively deal with the strike action (and) urge other unions to return to the bargaining council to resolve all the disputes in an orderly manner and through dialogue,” he said.

Nehawu and several other public servant unions have been locked in a wage dispute with the government.

The government is offering 4.7%, and the union is demanding 10 to12%.

KZN Nehawu general secretary Zola Saphetha said the Public Service and Administration Department had offered a 4.7% wage increase, while workers were demanding between 10 and 12%.

“We will not entertain anything below 10%. We will continue to strike until all our demands are met,” Saphetha said.

The union’s provincial deputy secretary Ntokozo Nxumalo said the Budget Speech had not addressed the issue of public servants’ wages, which dates back from 2022.

“We have now put the ball in their court (government) and said we want 10% or we will continue shutting down public facilities. We have shut down the Pinetown Court, the departments of Water and Public Works both in Durban, also Ngwelezana Hospital in uMhlathuze. We will continue shutting down other places until the employer (government) is ready to negotiate our demands,” said Nxumalo.