The National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) on Monday picketed outside a government block housing President Cyril Ramaphosa’s offices, demanding a salary increase and better conditions for workers in the frontline of fighting Covid-19, local media reported.
Speaking on radio station 702, Nehawu general-secretary Zola Saphetha said the workers would picket outside the Union Buildings complex in the capital Pretoria until Ramaphosa came out to address their demands, which include an eight percent pay increase.
In July Nehawu threatened a series of protests over the next couple of months, saying its members in the health sector were poorly paid despite facing great danger in combating the Covid-19 pandemic, including shortages of personal protective equipment.
It said workers had been victimised for raising questions about the lack of PPEs, the failure to daily screen health workers and the refusal by managers to allow workers to go on self-isolation if they reasonably suspected that they have been exposed to the virus.
Nehawu, which is South Africa’s largest public sector union, is angry that Ramaphosa has not yet responded to a memorandum delivered to his offices on September 3.
The union is an affiliate of labour federation Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu), which plans a stayaway by workers across all sectors of the economy on October 7 against the corruption which has surrounded the national response to the Covid-19 pandemic, such as irregularities in awarding procurement tenders.
Ramaphosa has ordered the country’s Special Investigating Unit to investigate the allegations of corruption, which have also dragged in his spokeswoman Khusela Diko.