Hungry strikers set up cooking fires during weeklong protest

Hungry strikers set up cooking fires during weeklong protestJust ask members of the National Education Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu) who have built cooking fires and brought pots in which to cook meals while they maintain a barricaded at the entrance of the Mpumalanga Regional Training Trust (MRTT).

Since Monday, the strikers prevented the non-striking workers and students from entering the facility in Kanyamazane near Mbombela, demanding their annual bonuses for 2014.

Seeing that their issues were not being attended to, the strikers built cooking fires at the MRTT gates and cooked meals that included porridge, a cow head, tripe and beef to feed their fellow protesters on Thursday.

“We shall cook and eat while we strike. This is how we do it when we strike. We know that hunger brings anger, so we want to strike without any anger,” said one of the strikers.

Hospitality students have been unable to attend class all week because of the strike.

Nehawu acting regional chairman Scara Masilela said the protesters want the 7% increase they were supposed to get last year.

He said the union took the matter to the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration but it was never resolved.

“That’s why we took to the streets,” he said.

He said Nehawu tried several times to engage the management peacefully but the meetings without success.

Masilela claimed that their strike is legal and protected.

A second-year student who asked not to be named said the strike was unfair on the students.

“There were burning tyres and the gate was locked when the workers were protesting. This is unfair for us because we are being left behind with our studies,” she said.

She said those who did not want to participate in the protest were called names.

MRTT chief executive officer Davis Moropane’s phone rang unanswered.