The National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union [NEHAWU] condemns the ill treatment meted against its fulltime shopsteward, Cde Thembisa Mtshingila, by the management of the South African Revenue Services [SARS] offices in Port Elizabeth.
Cde. Mtshingila was suspended by the management on the 12th February 2020 for fighting for the cleaners at the office who were subjected to inhumane working conditions. The building had no running water and the cleaners were forced to use water buckets to manually flash toilets after they had been used by other staff members. Secondly, NEHAWU had appointed a sheriff of the court to attach property of SARS after the employer had failed to comply with a Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration [CCMA] award of members who were owed relocation costs. The employer blamed Cde. Mtshingila for the attachment of its property which was eventually brought back after they paid the relocation costs of our members.
The activism and drive to fight for workers’ rights by Cde. Mtshingila has resulted in the employer singling her out and using underhand tactics to silence her. Her matter was then referred to the CCMA for unfair labour practice and the matter finally set on the 23rd October 2020 after countless postponements. The employer still failed to attend the proceedings and the Commissioner ruled in her favour. Parties were served with an arbitration award on the 27th October 2020. The ruling stated that Cde. Mtshingila was a victim of unfair labour practice and that her suspension was unlawful and needed to be uplifted with immediate effect.
The union wrote to the employer that its member will be reporting for duty this morning upon her arrival she found to be locked out by the management and was refused entry into her work space. The management elected to call in police to remove her from the building. However, after listening attentively to both the management and Cde. Mtshingila the police declared that this was a labour issue and not public disturbance as reported by the management of SARS.
These actions by the management are abhorrent and very highhanded against an innocent young woman who wants to serve her country and also represent the workers she leads. NEHAWU is vehemently opposed to all forms of intimidation and victimization including union bashing. In this regard, the union has decided to consult its lawyers, members in the province while on the other hand will immediately demand an urgent meeting with the management of SARS on this humiliating and embarrassing matter.
The union will not stand idle while our shop stewards are denied their rights to protect and defend members and workers against intransigent and reckless employers nor victimizing its shop stewards and members particularly women amidst gender based violence if needs be, will consult the Human Rights Commission and Gender Commission including the Minister of Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities.
Issued by NEHAWU Secretariat