You’ll not enter or leave SA from Thursday: Union threatens to disrupt airports, matric exams

Members of the Public Servants Association during a picket. File Picture: Soraya Crowie

Members of the Public Servants Association during a picket. File Picture: Soraya Crowie

Published Nov 7, 2022


Pretoria - The Public Servants Association (PSA) has threatened its strike, scheduled to begin on Thursday, will cripple the ongoing National Senior Certificate examinations, ports of entry and courts across South Africa.

“We have visitors, people that are outside the country that would want to use (airports) to come or leave the country – those are the crucial services that would not be available if you go to the ports of entry. This includes airports,” PSA spokesperson Reuben Maleka told broadcaster Newzroom Afrika.

“If you arrive at OR Tambo International Airport on Thursday, you will not find anybody to process that kind of services. If you go to the Department of Justice, if there is a court roll that needs to be done, you will not find anybody. Those are some of the key departments I just want to mention.”

Maleka said there was also “a possibility” of disrupting the education sector.

Thousands of pupils started writing their matric examinations across South Africa last week.

“There is an understanding that all other services, including the possibility of disruption of some of the education sector, which is unfortunate. Teachers are also members. Teachers are suffering like any other public servants,” said Maleka.

“As much as we would not want to disrupt the exams, this is not to blame on trade unions. This is to blame on the government. For some time, they have dragged their feet. We cannot be blackmailed as trade unions, that we cannot disrupt exams.”

Maleka said the impact of the strike would be felt largely at the Department of Home Affairs.

“The strike is going to be with huge implication. We did not anticipate that we would arrive at this station where we have to call up the strike action. However, we have no alternative. The most crippling areas of the strike would be especially at Home Affairs.

“For funeral undertakers to do their work, they need death certificates. There will not be any death certificates that will be issued. Birth certificates will also not be issued. The ports of entry, if you are to arrive from other countries, you will not be able to be processed by the Department of Home Affairs,” he said.

“If you have to leave the country, come Thursday, you will not be able to do so. None of the officials of Home Affairs will be in service at the ports of entry.”

Several unions have rejected a 3% wage increase offer by Acting Public Service and Administration Minister Thulas Nxesi, saying it is below the inflation rate.

Finance minister Enoch Godongwana announced the increase during the Medium-Term Budget Policy Statement (MTBPS), saying the 3% wage increase by government was fair and would be implemented unilaterally.

Several unions in the Public Service Coordinating Bargaining Council have been given certificates of non-resolution. This after wage talks failed to resolve the issues at the Public Service Coordinating Bargaining Council.

Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa (Denosa) spokesperson, Sibongiseni Delihlazo, said they had also rejected the 3% wage offer.

“Unfortunately, we could not agree with the employer at conciliation. This ended with the issuing of a certificate of non-resolution. Once a certificate of non-resolution is issued, it virtually gives the go-ahead for a strike,” he said.

“Unions are still engaging among themselves on a joint programme of action. But they will have to give a notice of a strike to the employer in no less than seven days before the day of the strike,” he said.

National Education, Health and Allied Workers Union spokesperson Lwazi Nkolonzi said: “Our members lost their buying power as a result of non-implementation of the 2020 salary increase, and they continue to suffer non-growth on their pensions due to the effects of non-pensionable cash allowance for the second year in running.

“It is prudent that we must fight for a better wage increase than what is being offered.”

On Sunday, director-general of the Department of Basic Education, Mathanzima Mweli, appealed to communities across South Africa to allow learners registered for the critical National Senior Certificate examinations to participate in the critical tests.

Mweli said his department is concerned about the planned public service strike. He said a contingency plan has, however, been crafted, working with all provinces to buttress learners from the effect thereof.

Last month, the Public Servants Association rejected the government’s offer to public servants of a 3% salary adjustment and continuation of a cash gratuity until March 31.

The PSA filed a notice to strike on October 24, and speculation is that they can now go on strike at any time.

The country’s matrics started their final exams last week when more than 794 000 candidates sat for the English Paper 1 in 6 800 centres around the country.

There are 753 964 full-time candidates and 167 915 part-time candidates registered for 2022 matric exams, with 6 307 public schools doubled as exam centres.

The ministerial announcement of the results will be on January 19, and it will be followed by the provincial release of results a day later.