Police must protect South Africans from NEHAWU – Leon Schreiber

DA consults with lawyers about union’s planned protest despite ban of gathering of more than 100

DA consults lawyers and demands that police protect South Africans from NEHAWU

20 March 2020

The Democratic Alliance (DA) has today started consultations with our lawyers over the remedial options at our disposal to protect the lives of public servants and the broader public against the Coronavirus threats issued by Nehawu.

We have also written to the South African Police Service (SAPS) and the Minister of Public Service and Administration, Senzo Mchunu, demanding to know what they are doing to protect workers and the public from the deranged Nehawu leadership. Please find attached letters here and here

Throughout this week, Nehawu’s leadership have repeatedly pledged that they are willing to risk the lives of public servants, and the broader South African public, in their quest to prevent desperately-needed cuts to the public wage bill.

Nehawu’s secretary general, Zola Sapthetha, even explicitly said that “We would rather sacrifice ourselves to risks, including this coronavirus.” By “ourselves,” he was referring to the 20 000 workers that Nehawu plans to expose to the risk of contracting the Covid-19 virus during a planned protest on 30 March. This is in contrast to the decision by the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), who decided to cancel another protest that was planned for today, due to the Coronavirus.

The DA will do everything in our power to protect public health and safety. That is why we have today written to the SAPS and Minister Mchunu, demanding to know how they plan to avert this looming disaster, including by arresting the leadership of Nehawu if they carry out their threats. We have also briefed our lawyers to approach the court for an urgent interdict if Nehawu does not immediately and publicly cancel the protest march.

Even one Coronavirus infection resulting from this deranged and irresponsible threat could spread like wildfire throughout the entire population. Nehawu knows this, which is why they are deliberately using the Coronavirus crisis, and the lives of workers and the public, as a desperate blackmail ploy against the planned wage cuts announced by Finance Minister, Tito Mboweni, to begin stabilizing our country’s finances.

The many hardworking public servants of our country, including the heroes battling on the frontlines of the Coronavirus crisis, deserve better than destructive labour cartels who are willing to endanger the lives of their members just to protect the fat-cat salaries they extract from the hard-earned wages of workers.

The DA will not allow Nehawu to get away with this blackmail. We will fight tooth and nail until they are forced to cancel the planned march.

Issued by Leon Schreiber, DA Shadow Minister for Public Service and Administration, 20 March 2020