Court orders Nehawu essential workers to return to work after indicting further strike action

Labour Court compels Nehawu’s essential workers to return to their duties. File Picture: Masi Losi

Labour Court compels Nehawu’s essential workers to return to their duties. File Picture: Masi Losi

Published Mar 14, 2023


Pretoria – The National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) said it will urge its members considered “essential workers” to return to work on Tuesday, after the Labour Appeal Court interdicted any further strike action by the union.

In its order, the court said the union will be held responsible if word of the national interdict is not sufficiently distributed among its members.

The union agreed to suspend the strike to consult its legal representatives, however, they will let non-essential workers continue protesting.

“We have addressed members in the picket line and the throughout the country, the union is implementing the outcome of the interdict… Non-essential workers are continuing with the pickets and they are continuing with the strike,” said Nehawu Gauteng deputy provincial secretary, Mzikayise Tshontshi.

Explaining who are non-essential workers, Tshontshi told eNCA that at the moment, they advised all clinic and hospital workers to report to work while they discuss as a union which public workers are considered essential and those who are not.

“It will be a product of a discussion that will tell us who is essential and who is not essential. The most important thing in that discussion is to decide the minimum service that must be offered because we don’t want to disrupt (essential) services… But services must be balanced with our right to strike,” he said.

Nehawu is demanding a wage increase of 10% for its members, but the employer is offering 4.7%.

Last week, Health Minister Dr Joe Phaahla said four people had died as a result of the strike.

Phaahla said they would investigate if indeed the people had died as a result of negligence as a result of the strike.

Yesterday, Nehawu general secretary Zola Saphetha said the loss of lives was “unfortunate”.

Saphetha asked for space to exercise their rights while they awaited the conclusion of the investigation by the state before they could respond as a union.