The National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union [NEHAWU] has been engaged in salary negotiations with the management of the Nelson Mandela University management for the past eleven months. Throughout these salary negotiations, NMU management have been evasive thus progress has been stagnant.
At the beginning of last year, NEHAWU had to refer a dispute to the University Ombudsman regarding interpretation of aspects of the Condition of Service [CoS] collective agreement. This relates to the University insisting that they will not pay the Cost of Living Adjustment [COLA] but as Per the Advisory ruling, the University came to the realisation that they must pay COLA of CPI [6.4%]. On the continuation of salary negotiation in May 2017, management came with another tactic of offering 0% Cost of Living Enhancement (COLE). This was rejected by the union with the contempt it deserves. In November 2017, NEHAWU made it known to management that they must come with a firm offer on the table. To this, management reverted with a R2 000 once-off cash pay-out. NEHAWU then insisted on its request of Housing allowance increase from R1 100 to R 1 500 be resolved which management declined. NEHAWU further bent backwards by requesting that the once-off offer be increased to R7 500. The university management then reluctantly came to the table with a take-it-or-leave-it R4 000 once off offer.
It should be noted that at the Nelson Mandela University, there are no notch increases. It then means that with a once-off cash pay-out, employees will lose out on future-dated compounded increases on their pension funds and salary increases. It is also interesting to note that University management has been evasive and reluctant in opening the financial books for perusal. Invariably, NEHAWU is not empowered to engage meaningfully. Management has to date failed to respond to a range of financial expenses that NEHAWU had requested explanation for. The drama with the once-off cash pay-out did not stop there. The following week, when management was supposed to meet with NEHAWU to finalise salary negotiation, management renegaded. management then by-passed the union and communicated directly with workers ‘bad-mouthing’ the union and going ahead to unilaterally implement their unilateral decision to effect a once-off cash pay-out of R4000. We welcome the 14th cheque, however, Management must still come back to the negotiation table. What we know is that NEHAWU shall proceed with 2017/18 salary negotiation whilst also pursuing that of 2016/17 protracted negotiation.
The management continued with their bullying antics as it has been the order of the day at the campus. What management did was invoked section 23 of the LRA, effectively terminating the CoS collective agreement that formed the very basis for the salary negotiation in the first place. The national union took management to court resulting in the unions winning at the Labour Court where the management’s notice of termination of the CoS collective agreement was declared null and void which then makes the CoS to remain of full force and effect. One would have thought that management has learnt its lesson, however, management yet again on 30 December 2017 issued yet another notice of intention to terminate CoS with effect from 31 March 2018. NEHAWU has rejected this for the contempt it deserves. We shall challenge once again this in Court. At this stage, with management’s approach, it is evident that a long-drawn out impasse has just started. The national union is not deterred nor frightened by their legal threats and we will work tirelessly until workers receive what is due to them.
Failure to resolve the current impasse will leave workers with no choice but to go on a full blown strike. It is disheartening to note that the University continues to spend huge sum of money on legal fees in fighting the union in courts, CCMA and disciplinary of Shop Stewards, yet when they have to pay workers what is due to them they plead poverty. More so, management also continues to waste money on bloating their senior management level and paying themselves bonuses. In June of 2018, management rewarded themselves performance bonuses of more than 1.2million for just about 20 personnel. The same management has failed to deal decisively with reported cases of Corruption and racism. Lastly as NEHAWU, we reject the move by the university to deny the union to hold meetings in its premises.
Issued by NEHAWU Secretariat
Zola Saphetha (General Secretary) at 082 558 5968;
December Mavuso (Deputy General Secretary) at 082 558 5969;
Khaya Xaba (NEHAWU Media Liaison Officer) at 082 455 2500
or email: firstname.lastname@example.org Visit NEHAWU website: www.nehawu.org.za