Image via Facebook: SASSA News

Sassa employees set to strike this week “on behalf of all beneficiaries”

Sassa operations will be disrupted nationwide.


Image via Facebook: SASSA News

The South African Social Security Agency’s (Sassa) operations are set to grind to a halt this week as employees commence a strike, organised by the National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu).

In a report by The Citizen, Nehawu cites unreconciled issues brought to the attention of Sassa management amid the transition process, whereby the social grant payment system moved from Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) to the South African Post Office (Sapo), as a reason for the strike.

Sassa employees bemoan new biometric system

This change in administration has not been free of operational hiccups; the union states that biometric enrolment of beneficiaries and staff, the grant business process and alleged Socpen (social pensions) fraud are all reasons for the industrial action undertaken by Sassa employees.

Zola Saphetha, Nehawu’s general secretary, bemoaned Sassa’s refusal to engage with issues tabled by its workers, calling on the Minister of Social Development, Susan Shabangu, to intervene, saying:

“It has been our understanding that the strike remains a last resort after exhausting all available avenues, including seeking an intervention from the minister of social development, Honourable Susan Shabangu.

Our intention has been consistently resolving issues amicably during negotiations, but the intransigence and arrogance of the Sassa management resulted in one option, the total shutdown of all Sassa workplaces.”

The union’s greatest qualms revolve around Sassa’s new biometric system. Nehawu is demanding the immediate suspension of the biometric enrolment of beneficiaries and prioritisation of the consultation on the biometric enrolment of beneficiaries.

Social pension fraud

Saphetha also singled out Socpen fraud as a reason for the strike. The union is calling for an improved security protocol which will mitigate fraudulent or irregular deductions from the beneficiaries’ accounts, saying:

“Workers continue to access Socpen the very same way they did before and it is still a very vulnerable system to fraud and hackers.

Workers are caught between violating Socpen rules by bypassing the system and not being able to bypass the system. They are then unable to perform the rest of the grant administration functions.

This poses a risk to both workers and the credibility of the social grant system, which renders the system useless.”

Sassa employees held hostage

According to Saphetha, the issues arising from an ill-conceived biometric system are resulting in a build-up of tension between frustrated beneficiaries and Sassa employees. It was recently reported that Sassa workers were held hostage in Maponya Mall, Soshanguve and Orange Farm offices, as a result of the ineffective biometric system. Saphetha explained:

“Nehawu shall not tolerate the careless handling of this matter hence it has taken a decision to pick a fight with the Sassa management.

This fight is on behalf of all the beneficiaries, not only selfishly about our members and workers in general, hence we call upon all South Africans to join our envisaged full-blown strike until all the demands are met.

At this point, we humbly appeal to beneficiaries who have been victims of the shoddy work of Sassa to come forth and raise their frustrations with us.

Once more, we call on all communities to support our strike action as this action is meant to protect the sustenance of the 17 million beneficiaries who rely on Sassa for grants and also building a caring government of the people.”