Cape Town - Staff at the Western Cape College of Nursing are concerned about the proposed merger between the college and Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT), saying they feared job losses and fewer nurses being trained.
The provincial health department is doing away with the college’s nursing diploma in favour of CPUT’s BTech programme, which is set to start next year.
On Thursday, college staff, including lecturers, administration staff and general workers, held a lunch-hour picket under the banner of the National Education, Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu) and Democratic Nursing Organisation of SA (Denosa).
They say the merger will not only rob them of their jobs, but was against the national Health Department’s plans to open more nursing colleges to address the nurse shortage. The college is the only nursing college in the province and incorporates satellite campuses including those in the Boland, George and Stikland.
Denosa provincial secretary Bongani Lose said while nursing unions were still being consulted by the department about the merger, there were clear indications that it was a “done deal”, with staff being asked to prepare for the move.
“Staff are angry because of uncertainties surrounding this move. Most of them are employed full-time by the department, but we know when they move to CPUT there will be no guarantee of employment… most staff at CPUT are already on contracts. Our view is that fewer nurses will be trained under CPUT. What will then happen to the rest of the college staff?”
Lose said some workers would not qualify to teach at university level since lecturers were required to have a Master’s degree, which some college staffers didn’t have.
The department would neither deny nor confirm the allegations of job losses and drop in student numbers.
Emerantia Cupido, the department’s nursing services spokeswoman, said it would be premature to comment at this stage because negotiations with organised labour were ongoing.
The college and CPUT had been working under a memorandum of understanding for several years to ensure students “attain the best nursing education possible”. The merger “is already on the agenda of the provincial public health and social development sectoral bargaining chamber. Various meetings with organised labour (at provincial and institutional level), as well as with all the staff have already taken place, and will continue”.
Nehawu regional organiser Anwar Meniers accused the department of “trying to divide staff” by coercing them into signing confidential letters that would see some getting jobs while others would lose out.
The unions believed that under the CPUT programme only 200 nurses would be admitted, as opposed to the 350 to 400 the college admitted.