Nehawu said it had served the Agricultural Research Council (ARC) with a notice for strike action. Picture: Leon Lestrade/African News Agency

Durban - The National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) said on Friday it had served the Agricultural Research Council (ARC) with a notice for strike action.

"Nehawu is currently concluding its internal preparations for the strike and will be convening a national meeting on May 3 to consolidate its position and approach towards the upcoming strike," the union said via an emailed statement. 

The certificate for the strike was received after a dispute that arose on March 9 and the matter was referred to the CCMA on March 12. 

The matter was set-down for conciliation on April 10 at the CCMA but the parties failed to break the wage deadlock, said Nehawu. 

"The certificate of outcome of dispute was issued on April 15 after concluding picket rules as per the new amended Labour Relations Act," said the statement. 

"Currently, ARC employees have no allowances, subsidies or any other benefits. The organisation has put on hold the rewarding of good performance and job security cannot be guaranteed as ARC executives have already proposed retrenchments in parliament. Researchers are leaving for greener pastures because the entity does not pay market related salaries," said the statement. 

According to Nehawu, ARC had had three chief financial officers in less than a year, which had led to its "paralysis". 

"The entity got a qualified audit for the 2016/2017 financial year. Looking at the 2016/2017 audit report and the areas of concern which are currently not addressed, it is highly likely that there will be another qualified audit for the 2017/2018 financial year. The current CEO is serving his third term, however, ARC has deteriorated under his leadership and failed dismally," said the statement. 

The union is demanding a salary increase of 12.5% across the board, a single term agreement, housing allowance of R2000 per month and a medical aid allowance of R1500 per month. 

It further wants a performance bonus to be applied in 2019, the implementation of a pay-progression/notch system, medical insurance cover for employees travelling for work purposes and for GG13 and 14 (non-management) to be included as part of the bargaining unit of the National Bargaining Forum.

Preparing for strike action was "a last resort", said the union. "We appeal to the employer to concede to all our demands to avert any disruptions to the normal functioning of the ARC."

African News Agency (ANA)