News agency, Cape Town, South Africa
Saturday February 16th 2019

Protesting soldiers threaten strike action

Siyabonga Kalipa

South African National Defence Force members aligned to the South African Security Forces Union (Sasfu) are threatening strike action.

This comes after 12 Sasfu representatives unsuccessfully attempted to hand a memorandum of grievances to the Defence Ministry outside Parliament on Tuesday. yesterday.

The 12 representatives stood outside Parliament gates for three hours, holding placards that read: ‘Soldiers do not eat understanding’; ‘Decent life for all’; and, ‘If Chris Hani was here we wouldn’t be standing here’.

They eventually left after not being given a hearing by anyone in government.

“The defence ministry didn’t come out to hear our grievances so we are going to embark on a full blown strike. This time we won’t go to them (the ministry) first. If they haven’t responded after seven days we will go on strike, in all nine provinces,” said Western Cape SASFU Chairperson Thembinkosi Soko.

Soko said the memorandum – which they wished to hand to Defence and Military Veterans Minister Lindiwe Sisulu – sought salary parity with other security forces.

“Soldiers in the security cluster are the most underpaid, therefore we want salary parity. We are not exempt from tax…people feel the recession, and we feel it is time for us to be recognised in payment,” said Soko.

Sasfu provincial treasurer Vuyani Ngxitho said Sasfu had 9,000 members in the 61,000-strong defence force.

Protesting Sasfu member Current Rumbu said: “What happened here today won’t change the fact that we were here. Government knows that. From now on we are going to mobilise for a big march to Luthuli house in Johannesburg.”

Rumbu said Sasfu members sought a salary adjustment to close the wage gap between soldiers and the police.

“The then minister (Safety and Security Minister Charles Nqakula) said he will close that gap but before he could do so he was replaced, so we want the present minister to continue with what was going to happen.”

Minister of Defence and Military spokesperson Ndivhuwo Mabaya said: “When the minister took over office she was aware of the unfavourable working conditions the military works under and we are aware of their salary disputes.

Mabaya said as a result there was “a bargaining chamber” taking place “to address all those issues”.

He said it was illegal for defence force members to go on strike, especially in front of Parliament.

“The security of the state depends on them, they can’t be striking.” – West Cape News

Tags: sandf, soldiers

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