The National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union [NEHAWU] has called off the Technical and Vocational Education and Training [TVET] and Community Education and Training [CET] national strike action after signing a settlement agreement with the Department of Higher Education and Training [DHET]. The settlement agreement was signed at midday after marathon negotiations that started on Monday morning and concluded yesterday evening.
The National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union [NEHAWU] has finalised its preparations for a national strike in all the Technical and Vocational Education and Training [TVET] and Community Education and Training [CET] colleges in the country. The strike will commence at workplaces on the 14th February 2019 in the morning and run indefinitely until all our demands are met by the Department of Higher Education and Training [DHET].
On the 08th February 2019 the union convened a national bargaining forum meeting that was attended by Provincial Coordinators, Provincial Secretaries, Organisers and National Office Bearers to finalise the action plan for the strike. The meeting unanimously agreed that we are more than ready to embark on a strike after reports were tabled from both TVET and CET colleges on their state of readiness.
NEHAWU organises workers from 50 TVET colleges spread across 264 campuses and CET colleges spread across more than 3000 community learning centres. Our members are ready to make their voices heard and send a strong message to the department that they shall no longer tolerate being exploited and subjected to horrible working conditions. Our members have been patient since 2015 and now their patience has ran out hence they have decided to withdraw their labour power in a quest to twist the arm of the employer to accede to our genuine and reasonable demands.
The issues that has culminated into the strike have been before the council since April 2015 and the department under the stewardship of Mr Gwebinkundla Felix Qonde dismally failed to address our issues even after the march we had in November 2017. The union had numerous meetings with the department to try resolve our issues with no positive result and we ultimately had to follow the dispute resolution processes in the General Public Service Sector Bargaining Council [GPSSBC].
As NEHAWU, we hold a strong view that at the centre of our problems is the leadership and presence of the current Director General. We believe that any qualitative change that the department shall undertake must begin with the departure of Mr Qonde as he has no best interest in his heart for the department and the students it seeks to serve. He has treated workers with sheer disdain and dismally failed to guide the department to implement sound human resource policies. Most of the challenges that are being faced by workers at public colleges are administrative by nature. This can be attributed to the failure by the Director General to appoint competent HR managers.
Our demands as NEHAWU are as follows: