NEHAWU begins nationwide shutdown of colleges
Shutdown “indefinite” until demands are met says national spokesperson
National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (NEHAWU) started a national shutdown of all TVET and CET (Community Education and Training) colleges on Thursday.
NEHAWU said the strike will close 50 colleges across the country, about 230 campuses.
The union is demanding permanent contracts for all its 14,950 members.
National president of the South African Students Congress (SASCO) Avela Mjajubane said: “We are together with the union because our struggles are the same … We can’t demand quality education if our lecturers are not paid enough.”
NEHAWU national spokesperson Khaya Xaba joined the protest in Uitenhage. Members drove in a convoy shutting down all nine campuses of the Eastcape Midlands College. Traffic was disrupted and songs such as “Umoya wam uyavuma” (My spirit is alive) and “Uzakunya khwelecingweni” (You will shit yourself) sung.
Xaba said for the past four years the union had been engaging with the Department of Higher Education and Training. “Our workers’ salaries are not on par with other public servants … Workers [wages] remain stagnant every year and they don’t get an increase … They don’t get bonuses, UIF, provident funds, and on top of that, they are still hired on a month-to-month basis.”
“We are hoping that the employer will finally come to its senses … The struggle continues indefinitely … Failure to reach our demands will intensify the strike and ensure that we collapse the sector in order for our demands to be met,” said Xaba.
Higher Education Minister’s spokesman Lunga Ngqengelele said that the Minister was “very worried” that thousands of students have been deprived of education due to the strike. “There are a number of issues raised by Nehawu, such as wages which cannot be discussed outside the Bargaining Council. We therefore appeal to the Nehawu members to put their strike on hold.”
Ngqengelele confirmed that Pandor had asked to meet the NEHAWU delegation on Friday.
Xaba said NEHAWU will meet Higher Education Minister Naledi Pandor in Parliament on Friday. “We will go and listen to the Minister because we have an open door policy and we will listen whenever someone wants to talk to us. If she brings something tangible to us, we will take it from there.”
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