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NEHAWU intensifies nationwide TVET strike, takes dig at Eastcape Midlands College

By Afikile Lugunya - Feb 25, 2019
NEHAWU intensifies nationwide TVET strike, takes dig at Eastcape Midlands College

The National Health Education & Allied Workers Union (NEHAWU) said that their strike will continue until the Minister of Science and Technology, Naledi Pandor, responds to their demands.

Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVETs) and Community Education and Training (CET) colleges were shutdown nationally for nearly three weeks now as NEHAWU threatened to intensify the strike if their demands are not met.

NEHAWU affiliated workers at the colleges are striking over poor working conditions and salary benefits. Another thorny issue is that the strikers say that Higher Education and Training director-general, Gwebinkundla Qonde, is not fit for the position.

A meeting last week between NEHAWU and Pandor collapsed after representatives from the South African Students Congress and the South African Further Education and Training Student Association walked out with NEHAWU leaders.

NEHAWU Branch Secretary, Busiswa Sweetness Stokwe, told RNEWS that Pandor and her Deputy, Zanele kaMagwaza-Msibi, do not care about learners studying at TVET colleges.

"The painful part is that the Minister, who is heading the Department and her Deputy are black people," she said.

"It's painful because seemingly they don't understand the dynamics and the struggle of children of working class.

Challenges faced at Eastcape Midlands College

"If you are from Uitenhage, you will know that since 2015, we have been raising our challenges with the department and we were on strike for seven months and the community of Uitenhage knows that."

Stokwe alleged that there is corruption in the institution.

"For example, tenders are awarded to companies that are based in Durban yet there are people here, who are unemployed.

"There are workers in that institution that have been working under a contract for more than 10 years, which means that they don't get benefits,” she said.

"Those that are working for ABET have no pension fund and if you reach your pension age, the last money you take home with is your last salary.”

Stokwe further alleged that at ECape Midlands College, you get a promotion because "you have a lighter skin or you have a brother, who is in management and the sad part is that they don't even consider the issue of qualifications”.

"In one of these campuses, there is a student, who was doing Level 4 NCV - a program that is equivalent to Grade 12, teaching a student, who is doing  a NATED Diploma course - they are being taught by people who are under-qualified,” she explained.

"There is a lot of corruption in this institution, for instance, two years ago, we were given a Principal from the North West.

"We are not racist, but we are saying that it cannot be that in the entire Eastern Cape, there is no one, who can be appointed to be a Principal here.”

Eastcape Midlands College says allegations malicious

"Statements made by EMC NEHAWU members are malicious attempts to discredit the reputation of an achieving institution and to gain credit amongst a minority number of union members who have been participating in the strike action," described Elmari Van de Merwe, spokesperson for Eastcape Midlands College.

"These statements and disruptions of classes have a negative impact on education afforded to deserving students. These actions are strongly condemned by EMC management and will not be tolerated."

The college has since been granted a court interdict gainst the strikers and classes are ongoing. Read more HERE.

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