Nehawu strike: ‘Nobody should be working’


Hospital services in parts of the country have been severely disrupted, as the National Education, Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu) strike continues for the third day.
Nehawu said that all union members will withdraw their labour from the Charlotte Maxeke Hospital (CMH) in Johannesburg until their demands are met.
“We will be outside striking. No workers should report to the hospital. We do not expect any members to enter the premises, we want you to be with us striking,” said Thabo Nagel, a Nehawu member who works at CMH.
“Nurses will also be expected to join this strike. This is not a threat. It is a fact. We know who all the members are and we want to see you at the strike.
We will not be stopping patients from entering but we will withdraw our services from the institution. We will need all members at all three gates to block the entrances. We will not move in the face of threats from law enforcement.”
Protesters referred to those who chose not to participate as “amagundwani” which means rats.
No hospital staff will be allowed entry through the gates.
“There will be a register for all members to sign when they arrive. Employees will go in to the hospital at their own expense,” said Nagel.

Pelonomi Hospital

At Pelonomi Hospital in the Free State, services collapsed services after nurses, porters and other vital personnel abandoned their posts and joined the strike. Patients were left unattended, and the academic teaching hospital was forced to move critical patients to other facilities. Striking workers prevented ambulances from leaving the hospital, threatening drivers and other staff.

The Free State’s health spokesperson, Mondli Mvambi called the barring of ambulances an act of crime.

“If anything happened all the blame will be on Nehawu. As much as we agree that workers have a right to complain or show dissatisfaction or strike, they cannot do that in a way that poses a threat to other people,” he said.

The Free State Department of Health MEC Montsheng Tsiu has interdicted Nehawu and its striking members to cease from intimidating workers who are not part of the strike.

The interdict further call for the immediate cease of the barricading of entrances at all hospitals.

Tsiu admitted says the violent intimidation of workers is sabotage.

“I stand to be corrected over this but I believe striking workers were actually sabotaging us when they halted services by intimidating and beating some of the staff members who don’t belong to their union,” she said.

Patients were left without food due to cooks leaving the kitchen. “I’m still shocked over what I have witnessed at Pelonomi Hospital where
patients were left alone. I want to thank those few doctors and other personnel who helped provide food to patients. I know some nurses were barred from entering the gate when they reported to work and we hope this interdict shall be abided to,” she said.

Western Cape

Mark van der Heever, Deputy Director of Communication at the Western Cape Department of Health and Wellness, said protest action by Nehawu in Khayelitsha disrupted services at Michael Mapongwana Clinic and Khayelitsha District Hospital.

“Although the buildings were not damaged, the protest resulted in the temporary suspension of health services at these facilities. Protesters are currently hindering ambulances from entering and exiting Khayelitsha District Hospital”, he said. 

The department is engaging with union representatives to ensure service recommence soon.

In Mpumalanga, Nehawu provincial secretary, Welcome Mnisi told Health-e News, that the protest action is still going on as planned across the province.

“We are still in the streets protesting for our rights. We remain resolute and no amount of court intimidation will stop us. We will fight until the end and even tomorrow morning we will be back again on the streets picketing until our pleas and voices are heard. It’s about time they listen to us. The public servants are tired,” said Mnisi.



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