SOCIAL Development in Port Alfred is currently on lockdown as part of a national strike where employees belonging to the National Education, Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu) are demanding more favourable working conditions and an increase in salary levels.
Some of the issues highlighted by Nehawu nationally include that the Department of Social Development fills thousands of vacant social worker posts by April or face strike action.
A petition was handed over to the Eastern Cape provincial office for Social Development on February 11 stating that until Minister Bathabile Dlamini has responded to their demands, doors for all offices, including the Port Alfred branch will remain locked when the planned strike starts.
On the strike that kicked off on Monday, Nehawu made a statement published on the Cosatu special bulletin that alleges that the Department of Social Development “has failed to table a meaningful response to the union’s demands”.
At the Port Alfred strike, the 29 employees refused to give comment and said they will strike until Dlamini has responded.
“We don’t want just a salary increase, we want a salary level increase to pos-vlak 10 (post-level 10) as well as better facilities to conduct our work,” said a protester who wouldn’t comment further.
The department responded to the statement on a government website, stating: “It is important to note that it is a fact that the Department of Social Development is not in a position to meet the demand of Nehawu in respect of the Occupational Specific Dispensation (OSD) simply because such a review falls beyond the mandate of the Department of Social Development.”
Social development media spokesman Mzukisi Matinise confirmed that the local office was part of the nationwide strike. He also said that salaries have not been adjusted to appropriate salary levels in five years.
“I have no idea how long the strike will go on for. Until the minister responds perhaps,” said Matinise.
“Unfortunately at the moment no services will be delivered by local offices but if there is an emergency someone can contact the district office. The district office in Grahamstown is offering services; we can make a plan to assist someone,” he said.
On salary levels, Matinise said that an average social worker earns around R17 000 before deductions, but an entry level employee, or support staff, earn on average between R18 000 to R19 000 a month.
More details in this week’s Talk of the Town.