JOHANNESBURG, August 4 – The National Education Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) on Friday said it had called off the strike at the National Health Laboratory Service (NHLS) after signing a settlement agreement with the employer.
The strike for higher wages by thousands of employees at the NHLS brought pathological services to a halt last month as unions were demanding an annual increase of 13 percent across the board for employees. The NHLS initially offered increases of three percent, but later bettered the offer to 7.3 percent.
The NHLS provides diagnostic pathology services to government departments, such as blood tests.
Thousands of patients at clinics were turned back during the week-long strike, which disrupted services across the country.
Nehawu said it accepted the employer’s improved offer on Thursday and had as a result officially called off the strike.
“The settlement is a victory for workers in that parties agreed to a salary increase of 7.3 percent effective from 1 April 2017 for employees of grade A-D1,” Nehawu Secretariat said in a statement.
“On proficiency, progression and insourcing the parties agreed that the proficiency assessment-evaluation for eligible technicians, technologists and scientists at A-D1 will be completed by the 31 October 2017.”
Nehawu said the in-sourcing of the three services namely; gardening, cleaning and security services shall be phased in effective 1st September.
In terms of the agreement, the parties also agreed that three days paternity leave would be given per annum independent of family responsibility leave effective August 2017.
Leave for shop-stewards, who are recognised by NHLS in terms of the recognition agreement, would be increased to 10 days per annum.
The union said the employer agreed to increase medical aid subsidy for workers on A-C bands from 74.6 percent to 75 percent. A five percent adjustment of the medical aid cap shall be effected, with the new set at R2,639.17, backdated to 1st April 2017.
“As Nehawu, we are happy with the results of the strike and once again would like to applaud our members for remaining resolute and militant when faced with the daunting task of struggling for what is due to them.
“This strike should serve as a lesson to workers in other sectors that through unity and militancy workers can overcome and be victorious against unyielding and inflexible employers.”
– African News Agency (ANA)