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Minister Phaahla gives Nehawu strikers until Tuesday morning to return to work

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Health Minister Dr Joe Phaahla has given striking members of the National Education, Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu) until Tuesday morning to return to work or risk disciplinary action.

Health workers that were part of the strike action have been ordered to report for duty on Tuesday morning or risk facing disciplinary action.

The strike by the union entered its second week. They are demanding a 10% wage increase while government is offering 4.7%.

The Minister has welcomed the Labour Appeal Court’s judgment which interdicts Nehawu members from continuing with their wage strike which started two weeks ago.

” We have given workers in the health sector until morning to return to work, failing which, those that don’t report will be in contempt of the court ruling. They will be putting themselves liable to face charges of misconduct. All managers are obliged in terms of the Labour Relations Act to apply to the principle of no work, no pay.”

The Labour Appeal Court issued an order interdicting essential service workers affiliated with Nehawu from continuing with the strike or any other form of industrial action.

On Sunday, Nehawu issued a statement threatening to intensify their strike as they were in dispute with the wage offer.

The trade union said it was resolute in rejecting the 3% increment given an average inflation rate of nearly 7% in the 2022/23 financial year.

Phaahla says the strike has caused a lapse in the delivery of healthcare services and has resulted in unnecessary loss of life. “There is no doubt that the strike disrupted the provision of health services in the country, leading to untold suffering and frustration. The court judgment concurs with our ministry and the department, that essential services workers are prohibited from engaging in disruptive industry action, which is detrimental to the healthcare services with the risk of loss of life.”

Minister Phaahla has hit out at the leadership of the trade union Nehawu for engaging in a prolonged, disruptive strike that has resulted in the loss of life and distress to patients at public hospitals in the country.

“We believe that this could have been avoided. It is inconceivable that the leadership of the trade union Nehawu was oblivious to the provisions of our law. The court order unequivocally calls on Nehawu leadership to call on essential services members to return to work with immediate effect,” adds the Minister.

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Meanwhile, striking Nehawu employees have been given an ultimatum.

“We have given workers in the health sector until [Tuesday] morning to return to work, failing which, those that don’t report will be in contempt of the court ruling. They will be putting themselves liable to face charges of misconduct. All managers are obliged in terms of the labour relations act to apply to the principle of no work, no pay,” adds the minister.

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