Parliament has obtained a second interdict against the National Education Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) to stop them from further protests in the precinct.
Parliament’s secretary Gengezi Mgidlana said this was after days of protests, which culminated in stun grenades used by police to clear singing employees off the steps of the National Council of Provinces Building.
Workers started protesting on Friday over the issue of performance bonuses which they want revisited, even though they have already signed an agreement, said Mgidlana.
The employees were violating the Labour Relations Act and a court order. They had opted for “unlawful industrial action” instead of declaring a dispute on the matter.
They had also been told there would be “no work no pay” during the protest.
On Tuesday a 2010 interdict preventing Nehawu protests at the precinct was revived when large groups sang outside the National Assembly doors.
Mgidlana said Speaker Baleka Mbete authorised that police be called in after four committees out of 17 were disrupted on Wednesday.
The portfolio committees on police, transport, water and sanitation and a joint standing committee on appropriations were abandoned when protesters entered the committee rooms singing.
Mgidlana said the appropriations committee was dealing with medium term budget appropriations which were very important, when protesters entered their committee room.
MPs complained about not being able to go about their business and some staffers said they were pulled out of their offices.
This was in violation of the Powers, Privileges and Immunities Act which states that a member of Parliament’s work should not be disrupted, said Mgidlana.
“It is a criminal offence,” he said. “Sadly we had to ask for the assistance of the [police]”.
He said that Parliament had been declared an essential service, which meant members of the institution “in its entirety” cannot go on strike.
They can organise and be involved in collective bargaining, negotiations and elements of picketing until the arbitration stage.
He said Nehawu was trying to renegotiate performance bonuses even though they had already agreed on this issue.
It is the first time Parliament has a multi-year agreement in place, so Nehawu would have to wait until 2017 to revisit the issue, he added.
Parliament’s chief legal adviser Zuraya Adhikarie told News24 after the briefing that Wednesday’s interdict was not a lock out.
Nehawu members can enter the precinct, but they may not protest, or incite members to protest, or invite members to a meeting without permission from the Secretary of Parliament.
A meeting between Parliament’s management and Nehawu took place on Wednesday evening.
Nehawu has vowed to return to Parliament on Thursday to carry on with its protests if its demands are not met. News24