Sassa strike on ice after return to 'ink and paper' fingerprints

11 October 2018 - 10:32 By Ernest Mabuza‚ Tmg Digital‚ Johannesburg
The union said final warnings issued to employees would also be withdrawn and no disciplinary action relating to biometric enrolment would be tolerated going forward.
The union said final warnings issued to employees would also be withdrawn and no disciplinary action relating to biometric enrolment would be tolerated going forward.
Image: Gallo Images / Alet Pretorius

National Education‚ Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) members who embarked on a strike at the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) will return to work on Monday.

The workers embarked on a strike on Wednesday after a disagreement over Sassa’s internal process of biometric enrolment for social grant recipients.

Sassa explained in a statement on Wednesday that biometric enrolment was not a new function. It was previously done manually as part of the application process‚ where ink and a pad was used and the beneficiary’s fingerprint was put on paper.

It said when Sassa entered into a contract with Cash Paymaster Services for the payment of grants in 2012‚ the ink‚ pad and paper were replaced with digital capturing called biometric enrolment.

In a statement on Thursday‚ the union said a meeting was convened on Wednesday at the request of social development minister Susan Shabangu to resolve issues that led to the union embarking on a national strike.

“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.”

Nehawu spokesman Khaya Xaba said the union members would revert to the old system that they were familiar with.

The union said an amendment of the key performance appraisals of grant administrators would be undertaken and Sassa would also look into the issue of remuneration for any extra tasks to be performed by workers.

“Both parties agreed that issues that led to the strike could have been handled much better and committed themselves to build a more cordial relationship with each other.”

The union and Sassa recommitted themselves to ensuring that beneficiaries were taken care of and treated with dignity.

“Both parties agreed that a special focus is needed to deal with the consequences of the decommissioning of pay points which has disadvantaged beneficiaries especially those in rural areas.”

The union said final warnings issued to employees would also be withdrawn and no disciplinary action relating to biometric enrolment would be tolerated going forward.

“The union will go back to the picket lines tomorrow to report to members on a draft settlement agreement and use that to get a mandate for signing and demobilising‚” the union said.

“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 in the strike.”

Sassa was not immediately available to comment. 

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