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Parly workers should have right to protest: Cosatu

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Due to concerns over the legal standing of a five-year interdict parliamentary management are hoping to use against protesting staff, it has taken out an additional interdict to bring to a half what has been nearly a week of ongoing protest action.

Protests are being led by the National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Newahu) over a longstanding dispute on bonuses; workers are demanding that their performance bonus structure be altered to annual packages. Workers are also irate over threats that their salaries may be reduced.

Cosatu has called on parliamentary management to try and negotiate with staff in order to address a matter that has effectively dragged on for a number of years, in the hopes that this can normalise industrial relations.

“Parliament is the custodian of the laws of our country and it is incumbent on them to set the tone of labour relations in South Africa. They must resolve matters through negotiations and not call in the police to deal with workers in the way we saw yesterday,” said the trade union’s regional secretary, Tony Ehrenreich, referencing unsavoury scenes witnessed on Wednesday when riot police use stun grenades and tear gas against workers within the parliamentary precinct.

Ehrenreich noted that government were attempting to use the National Key Points Act in a bid to stifle the protest. However Cosatu were disputing that workers need always have the right to strike and protest regardless of parliaments standing as a national key point, unless there’s a threat to life of the sovereignty of the country.

“In this case neither of those threats exists, so we certainly think that this legislation should not be called upon to try and restrict the right of workers to protest,” he stressed.

The protests started on Friday and workers have vowed to continue until their demands and concerns have been addressed. VOC (Mubeen Banderker)

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