Social Development workers go on strike
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National Education Health and Allied Workers' Union (Nehawu) members employed
by the Department of Social Development (DSD) on Monday went on a full-blown
strike across the country after negotiations over working conditions with the employer collapsed.
"We are calling on all our members to down tools for
a total and indefinite shutdown until our demands are met. Following a marathon
negotiations with the employer, last night the negotiations collapsed,"
Bereng Soke, Nehawu general secretary said in a statement.
"For more than a month now since the submission of
our memorandum, the employer has failed to table a counter offer, only
releasing an insulting propaganda statement."
Last month, Nehawu mounted nation-wide protest action and
delivered a memorandum of demands but a solution to the dispute is yet to be
reached. The union demands, among other things, the placement of assistant
community development practitioners on the "correct salary" level,
the occupational specific dispensation for social service professionals and
occupations, the introduction of a rural allowance, the absorption of
unemployed social workers on a permanent basis and many others.
The occupational specific dispensation system was
introduced for public sector employees in 2007 in a bid to improve government's
ability to attract and retain skilled employees through increased remuneration.
Read also: Nehawu slams 'reckless' spending
Soke said, as a result of the collapsed negotiations on
Sunday night, Nehawu leadership in all layers of the national union was
deployed on the ground at picket lines to intensifying the strike.
"We are now in the process of consulting our members
in South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) over their long-standing
demands that have not been addressed by the employer in the same
department," Soke said.
"Our members are already calling for a total
indefinite shutdown of Sassa and union is considering this option. We are now
calling for all our members and all social development employees to come out in
support of their legitimate demands and their fighting union."
Social Development spokesperson, Lumka Oliphant, was not
immediately available for comment after numerous attempts to get hold of her.