A STRIKE in Parliament by the National Education Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) was suspended on Monday as the two parties entered into talks facilitated by the Commission for Conciliation Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA).
This follows a week of more striking over a decision by Parliament to deduct money from staff members’ salaries for work days lost during the union’s strike last year.
The meeting also follows a determination by the CCMA two weeks ago that Parliament must pay researchers salary increases agreed to in 2010, as well as R38m to cover the payments that they were owed for five years.
Nehawu’s parliamentary branch secretary, Themba Gabula, said that the union suspended Monday’s strike pending the outcome of a CCMA meeting between branch leadership and management of Parliament, which was also taking place on Monday.
"It’s an attempt to help the parties to find each other on matters that led to the [decision to] strike [last week]. The meeting will deal with the issues of deductions a suspension of staff members," said Gabula.
Gabula said it was not immediately clear whether the meeting would come to any conclusion by the end of Monday. He said the union requested that its staff members in Parliament be on standby for news of any update or mandate.
ANC parliamentary caucus spokesperson Moloto Mothapo said the caucus preferred not to interfere in the fracas, but that its door remained open if either of the parties sought an outside intervention.
"We have always said this is a dispute that belongs to the employer and employee. We as parties, including the ANC, always refrained from interfering. This is governed the law. Our doors do remain open though, and we remain hopeful that the two parties will reach an amicable solution," said Mothapo.
When asked about the risk of disruptions to committees and members’ work in Parliament, Mothapo said the caucus "hopes it will not come to that".
Parliament has maintained that the strike was unprotected and took place without prior notification. The union has disputed this.