Health Department assesses service disruption as Nehawu strike intensifies

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The National Education, Health, and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu) is set to intensify its national strike action over wages in the second week of protests.

This comes as the Labour Appeals Court is expected to rule today on an appeal of the government’s decision to halt the strike.

Despite numerous interdicts, the strike got off last week, with widespread reports of deaths and disruption to the country’s health systems. Health Minister Joe Phaahla linked at least 4 deaths to the strike.

Nehawu says negotiations at the bargaining council to try to bring the strike to an end have failed as the workers continue with their call for a 10% wage increase. The union has also announced that other Cosatu unions in the public sector will this week join in on the demonstrations.

Site visits

Minister Phaahla will continue to visit sites and assess healthcare disruptions across the country. He is scheduled to visit Thelle Mogoerane District Hospital in Ekurhuleni on Monday morning.

“Most hotspots across the country are operational, but clinical operations are still limited by insufficient nursing and administrative staff”, says the department.

The Department adds that most hospitals are dependent on volunteers from various NGOs and community members who are supporting various health facilities with cleaning and general admin.

Departmental Spokesperson, Foster Mohale says, “Minister Phaahla has noted a declaration by the trade union Nehawu on Sunday to intensify the strike action with disappointment, and he reiterates his call for peaceful and non-violent actions to allow non-striking healthcare workers to exercise their constitutional right to work without being intimidated or victimised.”

NEHAWU Strike I Operations disrupted at various health facilities countrywide

Crisis point

The Secretary of the Critical Care Society of Southern Africa, Professor Fathima Paruk, says that the situation has reached a crisis point.

“What we can really see is that around the country, there are problems at our healthcare facilities in terms of healthcare workers not being able to perform their duties. We’re also seeing reports of association with loss of life- and what is very worrying for us is that if you look at critical care- and now if you add on an already constrained, pressurised environment- disruptions, take away resources  like nurses, and have added burden of a greater number of ICU admissions – the system just will not hold.”

It’s Topical I ‘The strike will be more intense than before: NEHAWU