National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete vowed to crack down on striking Nehawu workers if they disrupted any of its business again after a sitting was abandoned when they burst into the House on Tuesday.
“Today they didn’t just continue with the strike, they started to embark on the type of actions which… are totally unacceptable,” said Mbete.
Parliamentary workers belonging to the National Education, Health and Aliied Workers’ Union have been protesting over performance bonus calculations.
She threatened to call the police again as she did two weeks ago to stabilise the situation, with the hope that Parliament would be able to finish off its work.
President Jacob Zuma was also expected to have his last session in the National Council of Provinces (NCOP).
“We are now saying, it’s so far and no further.”
She said striking workers went to committee rooms on Tuesday and threw food on the floor and broke crockery in the process. Mbete said she would not put up with it.
The carpet in front of where she was sitting for the briefing was smeared with a substance that looked like yoghurt.
‘WE HAVE THE POWER TO CALL THE POLICE’
Tuesday’s events came after Nehawu rejected Parliament’s counter proposals for how the bonuses should be structured. Nehawu said it would intensify the strike as a result.
Mbete said management would meet overnight to see which other legal means were at its disposal to ensure stability.
Negotiations with Nehawu would also continue through the evening.
Nehawu is pushing for higher percentage calculations for the performance bonuses because it has said that high earning employees, such as Parliament’s secretary Gengezi Mgidalana, will do well off a low percentage point, but the average worker will get just under R3 000, which they think is not fair.
Workers downed tools on November 6, and for the first week of the strike the focus was to get Parliament to agree to pay the bonuses on the total annual package. But then the dispute shifted to the percentage, which would be used for the calculation.
Parliament was also criticised for its handling of the matter at the Congress of SA Trade Unions’ 12th national congress in Midrand.
But Mbete said menacingly: “We want to remind ourselves that we do have the Powers and Privileges Act.”
An interdict issued two weeks ago in terms of the Powers, Privileges and Immunities Act, gave the speakers the power to call the police in to remove protesters.
She promised that the important division of revenue amendment bill would be passed before Parliament rises and said they planned to carry on with sittings on Wednesday as planned.
‘RELATIONSHIP IS NOT VERY HEALTHY RIGHT NOW’
Chairperson of the NCOP Thandi Modise said Parliament had accommodated Nehawu, thrown open its books to show how much money it had and had allowed Nehawu to hold its meetings in the old National Assembly building during the strike.
It had spoken to Nehawu’s national leadership, and to its mother body Cosatu, but to no avail.
“So that relationship is not very healthy right now. We have every intention of trying to heal it,” said Modise.
She said they had not invoked their interdict on another occasion when workers sang outside the doors of the National Assembly, because they were “embarrassed” by what was happening.
But the gloves were off now.
“Because if you start tinkering with the business of Parliament, you are actually tinkering with the business of the state. And that is not what you want.”
So, to protect the National Key Point, they would invoke the interdict if necessary.
“If that ends up in Parliament parting company with its workers, that will be a sad day. It might be done, but we are not there.” News24