NEHAWU National Executive Committee Statement
Friday April 08, 2022
The National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union [NEHAWU] convened its ordinary National Executive Committee [NEC] on the 06th – 07th April 2022. This was the first plenary session of the NEC after our successful 12th National Congress held in November last year. The NEC considered the international context, national political and socio-economic situations and organisational matters affecting our members and the working class in general.
The meeting took place at a time when the national liberation movement as a whole and the broad masses of our people, will be joining SACP in a few days in commemorating the 29th anniversary of the assassination of our revolutionary leader Comrade Thembisile Chris Hani.
The NEC was convened two weeks after the remembrance of the battle of Cuito Cuanavale, which took place in Angola from 1987 – 1988. The battle of Cuito Cuanavale represented a turning point for the liberation of Namibia, South Africa and Southern Africa – thanks to the Cuban armed forces for their military and political support.
On the international front
The NEC discussed the protracted crisis of global capitalism and its impact in the workplace and how it impacts on South African workers and working class families. It is evident that in this era of imperialist globalisation, international finance capital has led to major implosion of capital assets and wealth, concentrating and centralising these in the hands of a few, thus fostering greater inequality, poverty and unemployment. This situation was compounded by COVID-19 pandemic, the increasing geopolitical competition amongst major imperialist countries and most recently the war between Ukraine and Russia. Under these circumstances, it is the working class that has primarily borne the brunt of the capitalist crisis.
On the Russian/Ukraine war, the NEC made an assessment of the situation unfolding in the region and agreed that the war is an imperialist war orchestrated by the aggression of the USA, EU through NATO military alliance and the fascist political forces in Ukraine and further that workers and the broader working-class in countries involved have nothing to benefit out of it.
The NEC condemned the intensification of the Apartheid Israeli military onslaught against Palestinians and killing of youth Palestinian activists. The meeting further noted the United Nations special rapporteur on human rights, which affirmed that the occupation of Palestinian territories amounts to apartheid. The NEC condemns the hypocrisy and cynicism of the Western governments and large sections of their institutions and personalities, including UEFA and FIFA who have been indifferent to the sustained pogroms carried out by the Apartheid Israeli entity on a yearly basis; but are now trying to be champions of human rise in the wake of the Russia-Ukraine war.
The NEC further resolved that the national union must prioritise campaigns of Solidarity with Swaziland, Western Sahara, Cuba, Venezuela, Palestine, Basque and Kurdistan.
The NEC received an update report on progress of preparations for the 18th World Congress of the World Federation of Trade unions (WFTU) set to takes place in Rome, Italy on the 6-8 May under the theme “For the satisfaction of contemporary needs. Against imperialist-capitalist-barbarity”. In this regard, the NEC launched the 18th World Congress on the first day of the NEC meeting, and further congratulated the Presidential Council, the General Secretary, Comrade George Mavrikos and President, Comrade Mzwandile Makwayiba and the Presidential Council for their sterling and outstanding leadership role played in the last five (5) years.
The NEC wished its sister union the USB of Italy the best success in hosting the 18th WFTU World Congress and condemned the provocation by the Italian military which yesterday ransacked USB offices, under the false flag that weapons were hidden in the office. We agree with the USB response that, “The only weapons USB uses are strikes, demands, demonstrations and struggles. We leave the weapons to those who love them, starting with the solid majority that fuels the war in Ukraine”.
National Political Situation
The NEC concluded that the course of the National Democratic Revolution thus far, still reflects the overall balance of class forces that favour monopoly capital with an increasing influence of Bretton Woods institutions such as the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) and sovereign rating agencies exerting sustained pressure on the direction of government economic policies through Treasury and the South African Reserve Bank.
The NEC agreed that the influence of monopoly capital on the policy direction of our country has undermined and derailed the strategic objectives of NDR which seeks to resolve the interrelated contradictions of class, gender and national question. As a result, the NDR has remained stagnant, leading to the present calamity of high-levels unemployment rate, poverty and extreme inequality combined with corruption and poor governance.
In the intervening period, monopoly capital has been emboldened especially after flawed assertions made by President Ramaphosa that government does not create jobs, business create jobs and that social partners at NEDLAC are finalising a comprehensive social compact. The NEC resolved to reject a social compact that seeks to reverse our gains and lead to further deterioration of workers income and protection.
The NEC agreed that 2022 represents a momentous year for the Alliance and an opportunity for each component and the Alliance as a whole to be seized with renewal and to close ranks in the face of a potential disaster that is impending in General Elections in 2024. The meeting noted that SACP will be convening its 15th National Congress in July, COSATU 14th National Congress in September and the ANC 55th National Conference of the ANC.
In this regard, the NEC resolved to adopt a posture that says the Vanguard Party must implement the Left Popular Front NOW, and that the national political commission must develop a concept paper to give meaning to what we mean by the Left Popular Front.
The NEC further agreed that the Renewal, Rebuilding and Uniting project of the ANC must integrate the involvement and participation of workers and the working-class at the helm of the ANC Leadership.
The NEC noted that the sovereign rating agency, Moody’s has recently upgraded its rating of South Africa from the junk status to stable, despite the country having recently been ranked the most unequal society in the world with high rates of unemployment [46% in terms of the expanded definition] and poverty, and extreme inequalities that have found expression through race, gender and spatial terms.
The upgrade of the rating by Moody’s occurs against the background of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) forecasting the GDP growth rate to a mere 1.5% a year between 2022 and 2026. As NEHAWU, we are concerned about this gloomy and stagnant economic situation that confronts the country, and seemingly the government does not have any tangible solution to the crisis.
The NEC agreed that the economy and government’s economic policy must be about ensuring access to income and assets for dignified livelihoods, healthcare, education, housing, municipal services and social protection for the most vulnerable. However, in the South African context the opposite has occurred, and this is largely due to the fact that over the last two decades, the ANC led-government has pursued failing neoliberal macroeconomic policies which have led to social inequalities, deindustrialisation, austerity, privatisation, and destroyed the capacity of the state to deliver on education, health, housing, policing and social care.
As NEHAWU, we remain deeply concerned by the persistent austerity programme of Government and Treasury which seeks to reverse the gains of workers by mainly focusing on freezing the salaries of frontline public servants in order to reduce the public sector wage bill, whilst the politicians and judges give themselves increases. This clearly represents an attack on the gains of workers and an attack on collective bargaining. This is a serious provocation on workers who are contingents of frontline professionals in healthcare, teaching, policing and social care.
Equally, the NEC rejected in the strongest manner the proposed 3% salary increase for Public Office Bearers by the Independent Commission for the Remuneration.
The NEC welcomed the submission of made by the union to Parliament on the National Health Insurance Bill. We eagerly await for the bill to be adopted and subsequently signed by the President. As NEHAWU, we have been in the forefront in the campaign for the implementation of NHI in order to create an enabling platform for the transformation of the country’s healthcare system, including the private sector.
The meeting noted with concern that Treasury in tabling the 2022 Budget completely excluded to make any allocations for the NHI. Infact, the budget allocation for public healthcare has been cut meaning the public healthcare will now stretched to the breaking point, whilst the Treasury increases tax expenditure subsidies for the benefit of only 16% of the population using private health owned by the oligopoly of the private hospital groups. This is unconstitutional and we are contemplating challenging it in court. This sustained cuts in the healthcare budget totally goes against Government’s 2030 Human Resources Strategy for the Health Sector which highlights the need for an additional 97 000-health workers, with Community Health Workers comprising around one third required by 2025.
The NEC further noted that about R3.3 billion has been set aside for provinces to contract medical interns and community service doctors, which hopefully means that the contracts of the 18 500 health workers who were brought in for COVID-19 would be extended.
On post-schooling education and training, the NEC noted that the post-schooling system will suffer in medium-term budget allocations. The post-schooling system has been given a baseline growth of 5.1%, of which 3.8% and 3.6% would be subsidies and grants for universities and TVET Colleges as well as NSFAS.
The NEC agreed that the union must contribute in engaging with the agenda of mass skilling driven by the CETs, TVETs and SETAs, as part of tackling crisis of youth unemployment. In this regard, the NEC directed the union follow up on the outcomes of the Ministerial Community Education and Training Summit which set out to refocus into skills and the youth.
The NEC spent a great deal of time focusing on the organisational assessment as anchored around the central theme of “Close Ranks - Defend the Base” which in essence directs the national union to focus at the workplace where members are located. This also means that the workplace and branch visit becomes a permanent feature of the national union.
This central theme is about deepening efficiency to improve service delivery and accountability at all union levels. It means that everything and anything the union shall do, will be about improving service to members and growing our membership. It is about building strong union structures on the ground that are capable of responding to the needs of members.
The NEC agreed that branch congresses are part of the cycle of organisational renewal and in keeping with the clarion call made by the congress to root the organisation on the ground with members. As such, the NEC directed that branch congresses be convened as from May 2022.
The NEC accepted the outcomes of the National Public Service Bargaining Forum and agreed on the process of consolidating our demands with the COSATU Public Service Unions under the leadership of the Joint Mandating Committee (JMC) and other unions at the Public Service Collective Bargaining Council (PSCBC) in order to push back on the new approach imposed by the employer in 2021/22 bargaining cycle.
The NEC appreciated the work done by the union in preparing and contributing meaningfully at the Public Service Summit and further encouraged the union to keep its eyes on the ball to ensure full realisation of the outcomes as contained in the declaration.
The NEC further received a report on the migration of Early Childhood Development from Department of Social Development to Department of Basic Education and has directed the union to ensure that PSCBC Resolution 1 of 2019 is followed to the latter in this process.
Lastly, the NEC directed the union to the pay attention to the SARS and ARC dispute and looming strike action in order to prepare better in support of our member’s demands. The NEC further noted and appreciated the work done to conclude wage agreements in other sectors in particular the Legislature and Universities.
Issued by NEHAWU Secretariat
Zola Saphetha (General Secretary) at 082 558 5968;
December Mavuso (Deputy General Secretary) at 082 558 5969;
Lwazi Nkolonzi (NEHAWU National Spokesperson) at 081 558 2335 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org