According to NHLS Employee Relations Manager Bheki Hlatshwayo, the picket lasted 30 minutes and did not disrupt services. He added that the picket is tied to ongoing, annual wage negotiations between the NHLS and employees, but could not elaborate further on on-going negotiations.
NHLS employees have employed similar lunchtime pickets in pursuit of salary increases. In 2011, employees picketed during lunch hours as part of a drive to secure a 12 percent salary increase with the support of the National Education, Health and Allied Workers Union (NEHAWU).
According to NEHAWU Spokesperson Sizwe Pamla told Health-e News he was not aware of today’s lunchtime picket.
The picket comes about a month after civil society groups including the Treatment Action Campaign and the Rural Doctors Association of Southern Africa and Medicines Sans Frontieres penned an open letter to Health Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi expressing concerns regarding the NHLS’s financial situation.
In the letter, civil society groups ask Motsoaledi to confirm whether the NHLS owes about R300 million to suppliers as well as whether provinces continue to owe about R5 billion to the lab service. – Health-e News.