The National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) contract workers are on national strike demanding payment of performance bonuses and being employed permanently. The National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) members commenced with the strike on Monday and they handed over a memorandum to the Minister of Higher Education Blade Nzimande, demanding permanent employment, and corruption about the victimization of Nehawu staff to name a few.
Before the union declared a national strike they approached the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) for intervention, however, the union and NSFAS management reached a deadlock as they couldn’t find common ground and provide solutions to their demands.
Eric Kweleta, Western Cape Provincial Secretary of the Nehawu said, “The meeting with the management collapsed and they negotiated in bad faith. We tried everything in our power to resolve it amicably and we don’t want to negatively affect students,” during an interview on 702 talk radio. Gauteng News attempted to get hold of the NSFAS media liaison department but couldn’t solicit a comment by the time of publishing.
South Africans are worried about the timing of the strike and if it will affect the funding process for students, but Eric advised during the radio interview that students won’t be affected negatively by the strike.
For the past few weeks NSFAS found themselves in hot water as their staff members were arrested for corruption, squandering students’ funds and sharing the funds amongst themselves. Furthermore, when Kweleta was asked if Nehawu members were part of the people who were reported to have stolen money from NSFAS, he emphatically confirmed that the union members are not associated with corruption and the Department of Higher Education must take necessary steps to deal with such behaviour.