‘Action could be taken against striking Nehawu members’

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Acting Minister of Public Service and Administration, Thulas Nxesi, says actions could be taken against essential service workers who defied the court interdict.

Speaking on virtual media briefing, Nxesi said government has successfully interdicted the strike action.

The strike had earlier resulted in patients not able to access hospitals due to road blockades.

Nxesi has accused the striking workers of defying the court interdict.

Thulas Nxesi gives an update on the Nehawu strike:

Patients are being turned away at the Rob Feirera Hospital in Mbombela, as public service workers strike gets under way.

Gates at the public hospital have been closed with metal objects and the workers also blockaded the entrance with their vehicles to vent out their anger.

One of the patients who had a doctor’s appointment this morning, Samuel Mdawe, says the situation is bad. He traveled 40 kilometers from Matsulu to Mbombela hoping to get medical treatment but was turned away.

“So, what they are doing is right but to us is painful. Now, I don’t know because the medication they gave ended yesterday and now going forward, I don’t know what I’m going to do,” says Mdawe.

Meanwhile, the Mpumalanga government says essential services such as hospitals and clinics should not be interrupted by the workers strike.

Services disrupted in Free State

Police have been deployed to several health facilities across the Free State to manage the situation where members of workers union, National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) have embarked on a nationwide strike over a pay hike deadlock.

Provincial Health Department Spokesperson, Mondli Mvambi says striking Nehawu members have barricaded access and disrupted services to Pelonomi and National hospitals in Bloemfontein, Kroonstaad’s Boitumelo Hospital, Mofumahali Manapo Mopeli Hospital and Elizabeth Ross in QwaQwa, as well as Fezi Ngubentombi in Sasolburg.

Mvambi adds,” The department has contacted the Law Enforcement Agencies to ensure that the constitutional right to health is not infringed by those that are participating in the strike. It is unclear so far as to who is actively participating in the strike as services have not grounded to a complete halt. There are services that are still going on inside the different facilities and the situation is also different in terms of the different facilities. Some are now allowing, gradually, people to walk in; ambulance services are allowed while in some the situation is still tense.”

In the Eastern Cape

Operations at hospitals in Gqeberha in the Eastern Cape have been disrupted, as Nehawu-affiliated members join the nationwide strike. The strike started today despite an interdict obtained by the department of public services and administration to stop the strike.

Nehawu’s Provincial Deputy Secretary, Sweetness Stokwe, says they will continue with the strike until their demands are met.

“There is no manipulation, there is no emotional blackmail that can stop us from continuing. A war has been declared. We are responding to that war,” she says.

Strike action in Limpopo

Nehawu members in Limpopo have also joined in the nationwide strike despite an interdict obtained by the Department of Public Service and Administration to stop the strike.

Wage negotiations broke down last month, as government offered a 4,7% increase. The unions are demanding that salaries be increased by between 10-12%.

The unions’ secretary in Limpopo, Moses Maubane, says public servants have already downed tools at the government offices in Lebowakgomo.

“We are sending a message of demands to the employer that we still demand our 10% salary increase for 2022 and we also, amongst others, demand the R2800 housing allowance, and all the demands that we’ve put forward to the employer. We are still saying the employer must commit himself and make sure that he reviews his budget and pays their workers what is due to them,” says Maubane.

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