The National Education, Health and Allied Workers Union – Nehawu – has threatened that almost 5000 of its members working at the National Health Laboratory Services (NHLS) will go on a full-blown strike on Tuesday. This is over a freeze on salaries and other remuneration-related issues.

Workers at the Laboratory Services in Sandringham, Johannesburg also took part in Nehawu’s nationwide lunch-hour pickets over the inadequate supply of personal protective equipment (PPEs) to their members. The union says the pickets will continue throughout the week and culminate in a stay-away on Friday.

Nehawu spokesperson, Khaya Xaba says: “What is happening here at NHLS is the build-up towards the day of action. So they started last week with the lunch-hour pickets, which are ending today, today (Monday) is the last one, and tomorrow (Tuesday) there’ll go on a full-blown strike. When there’s a strike here, the work is then diverted Lancet, but Lancet and Amphath are also joining the strike of the rest of the workers, so there will be a problem with testing, which we believe might push the employer and government to the negotiating table, to put something tangible that we can entertain.”

The NHLS says if the threatened unprotected wage strike by Nehawu goes ahead it could impact the flow of data about the number of coronavirus infections in the country. Spokesperson Mzi Gcukumana says the NHLS has put in place contingency measures to ensure service continuity in the event of the strike.

He says the Labour court has declared the strike unlawful.

In the video below laboratory workers affiliated to Nehawu down tools

Health Minister, Zweli Mkhize says all managers must ensure that all healthcare workers have their PPEs as they perform their duties. Mkhize was addressing a group of doctors and healthcare workers in a virtual meeting on Monday night.

This is in the wake of a planned strike by trade union Nehawu at the NHLS.

Mkhize says the lives of healthcare professionals matter and they are risking their lives to be at the forefront of the coronavirus epidemic.

“It is important for us to say that we have taken a slogan that says ‘no PPE no work’ because we want to encourage those in the leadership to take the issue of protecting healthcare workers very seriously. I must express my deeper appreciation to all the health workers who have been the ablest champions in this fight.” Additional reporting Horisani Sithole

In the video below Dr. Zweli Mkhize is addressing a group of doctors and healthcare workers