Cape Town – Around 3 500 workers from the Department of Water and Sanitation have suspended their strike and will return to work within 24 hours, the National Health Education and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) said on Tuesday.
An agreement was signed with the department on Monday following a nationwide strike that started on Thursday last week, said Nehawu general secretary Zola Saphetha.
“The agreement is favourable to our demands and we should see this as a victory,” said Saphetha.
Workers from 53 Department of Water and Sanitation facilities went on strike when negotiations between the department and the union relating to safety, insourcing and corruption resulted in a deadlock.
“As Nehawu, we are elated to confirm that after just three days of the strike, a resounding settlement agreement was reached in favour of [our] members and workers in general,” said Saphetha.
“The Department of Water and Sanitation shall pay the outstanding 68% of merit bonuses and promotion for 2017 on April 30, 2018 to all qualifying employees.”
The department committed itself to ending outsourcing, instead making use of in-house skills.
Both parties also agreed to implement the new conditions of employment for construction employees.
One of the main reasons for the strike was to protest the corruption and maladministration within the department.
“Both corruption and maladministration have led to the department depleting funds meant to undertake its core functions,” said Saphetha.
“This is a battle, we are not willing to lose and we shall pursue until the bitter end. As Nehawu, we are determined to see those responsible for nearly collapsing the department facing punitive measures.”
Saphetha said that Nehawu had written to the chairperson of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa), Themba Godi, and was willing to share all information on corruption.
“There has been a pronouncement by Parliament to institute an inquiry, so we can only act within the platform,” said Department of Water and Sanitation spokesperson Sputnik Ratau.
“We have accepted and acknowledged their inquiry and we will cooperate.”
Nehawu has previously alleged that former water and sanitation minister Nomvula Mokonyane was involved in corrupt activities.
She was slammed for the instability and financial mismanagement created in her department during her tenure.
“If there are any allegations of the minister being personally involved in corrupt activities, we invite those persons [with information] to approach the correct authorities,” said Mokonyane’s spokesperson Mlimandlela Ndamase.
Scopa recently decided to press criminal charges against the department for taking a R2.9bn overdraft from the SA Reserve Bank.