Minister Shabangu takes union to court over Sassa strike


JOHANNESBURG, July 3 – An application for an interdict by Social Development Minister Susan Shabangu against striking members of the Public Servants Association at the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) was due to be heard at Johannesburg’s labor court on Tuesday.

Thousands of PSA members downed tools over wages at the agency on Monday, leading to a shutdown of social grant disbursements. They are also demanding concessions on housing, leave danger allowance, performance management, and the insourcing of some services.

The union wants a 12 percent wage hike, despite a 7 percent wage increase agreement signed by other public sector unions last month. Salary matters at the agency are governed by the Sassa Act, and because of this, the union wants to be allowed to negotiate for its members directly with Shabangu.

The crippling strike came after Sassa assured parliament that the agency was on track to do away with the services of Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) in the disbursement of social grants by September.

Sassa acting CEO Abraham Mahlangu last month told parliament’s portfolio committee on social development that the agency was systematically reducing the number of grant recipients who are paid their monthly grants in cash and are the only beneficiaries still paid through CPS.

The company’s contract was extended to September while Sassa transfers the function to the South African Post Office and commercial banks.

The strike has affected July social grants payments, with some beneficiaries failing to receive their grants. Mahlangu blamed the delays on the switch from the CPS system and urged beneficiaries to wait for at least another three days.

”We are aware that beneficiaries are experiencing problems with the electronic payment of their social grants. What is being experienced is a result of a process of changing from an old to a new payment system for social grants,” Mahlangu said in a statement on Tuesday.

“SASSA is also in a process of phasing out CPS as directed by the Constitutional Court and introducing the South African Post Office to pay social grants.”

Mahlangu assured beneficiaries that their social grants would be paid in full.

– African News Agency (ANA)