JOHANNESBURG, October 11 – The National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) said it would end a strike at the national social grants agency on Monday after the department of social development agreed to suspend the rolling out of a contentious biometric system pending further tests.
Nehawu began the strike at South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) offices across the country on Wednesday to protest the use of the biometric system to process social grants disbursements following a migration from Cash Paymaster Services to the South African Post Office.
The union met with the minister of social development on Wednesday where the parties agreed it was necessary to focus on how the decommissioning of pay points had disadvantaged beneficiaries in rural areas, in particular.
In a joint statement, Nehawu and the department said they had agreed that the issues which led to the strike could have been handled better and committed to building a more cordial relationship.
“On Monday, all workers are expected to return back to work and parties agreed that the “no work, no pay” principle will not be applied and that no workers will face punitive measures for participating on the strike,” they said.
“At the end both parties agreed that biometrics must be suspended and that functionality on the system must be reversed by Monday, 15 October 2018. After the suspension of the functionality is done tests will be conducted to eliminate any unintended consequences.”
The union has complained that the new system has introduced a raft of challenges which do not form part of the job description for administrative workers and for which they were neither trained nor compensated, adding that this migration has also opened the system up to easy manipulation, fraud and corruption.
The social development department agreed that workers would revert to the national interface system SOCPEN they are familiar with, while amendments to the key performance areas of grant administrators are made and remuneration for additional tasks looked into.
African News Agency (ANA)