Workers affiliated to Nehawu and other trade unions have downed tools at various public service facilities demanding government salary increment of 10%, bursaries for their children and housing allowance among other demands.
Workers at Rob Ferreira Hospital in Mbombela, Mpumalanga have closed the gates, turning away both patients and staff members who are on duty, rendering the public hospital useless.
The protesters have forced many patients and workers to be on the street. They are being turned away, many are returning home with no assistance.
For some patients, the strike action is a huge inconvenience.
“I come from Nkomazi. There are sick people inside. There is no service and people are being turned away and it’s full. We ask that government (to) do something about this situation,” says one patient.
“What they are doing is right, but to us it’s wrong because I am not the only one who did not get help; there is many of us,” says another frustrated patient.
“I came today as scheduled. I don’t have pills. I am in pain and they were forcefully removing us inside. It’s not good,” says another patient.
Some workers have gathered outside public facilities in their numbers to send their message across.
“We want 10%, we want bursaries for children of public servants. They are called the missing middle, unable to qualify for NSFAS because of the money they (their parents) earn; comprehensive housing for public servants, they don’t qualify for bank loans and RDP because they work for government. Those are some of the things we are demanding,” says Nehawu President Michael Madala Shingange.
The government’s spokesperson, George Mthetwa says there will be ramifications for workers who interrupt essential services.
“Those especially in essential sectors, like your hospitals, any interruption of any service, there will be consequence management that will be put in place,” says Mthetwa.
However, the workers have vowed to continue with their strike action until government meets their needs.