Nehawu public sector wage strike affects more than 10 hospitals in Gauteng

Nehawu members demanding salary increase.

Members of Nehawu protested at the Constitutional Court demanding a salary increase. l ITUMELENG ENGLISH/AFRICAN NEWS AGENCY (ANA)

Published Mar 8, 2023


Rustenburg – Services at more than 10 public hospitals and clinics in Gauteng have been disrupted due to the Nehawu public sector wage strike.

Members of the National Education, Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu) downed tools on Monday, in a bid to push the government to accede to the 10% wage demand.

Public sector workers unions have rejected the government's 3% percent wage hike offer.

The Department of Public Service and Administration approached the Labour Court in Johannesburg to interdict the strike.

The DA in Gauteng said it condemned Nehawu's disruptive actions at more than 10 Gauteng public hospitals, as well as many clinics in the province.

"Patients are suffering as they cannot get access to hospitals where surgery and appointments are cancelled due to the shortage of staff. It is particularly despicable that some emergency services have been blocked as well," said Jack Bloom, DA Gauteng provincial legislature member .

He said the health facilities that were badly affected by the strike included Helen Joseph, Chris Hani Baragwanath, Thelle Mogoerane, Tembisa, Bheki Mlangeni, Kopanong, Sebokeng, Heidelberg, Leratong and Carletonville hospitals.

"At the Bheki Mlangeni Hospital in Soweto, some staff have slept there overnight because of the intimidation. Fires are burning at all the entrances. It is unacceptable to burn tyres and intimidate staff who are needed to save people’s lives.

"Many patients can barely afford transport money to hospitals where they have now been turned away… Our hospitals are already overburdened with large backlogs – this is the last thing they need," Bloom said.

Cosatu called on striking workers to be peaceful, stating that it had noted disturbing reports of violent incidents and destruction of property by the striking public service workers.

"While we fully support the striking workers and believe that their fight is a legitimate one, we regret the disruption to public services which the strike has caused and any violent incidents or damage to property.

"We urge our members on strike to continue to conduct their strike in a peaceful, disciplined, and lawful manner.

“As members of a trade union federation guided by the principles of socialism, we must always be guided by the principles of working-class solidarity and remember that discipline goes hand in hand with working-class consciousness," national spokesperson, Sizwe Pamla, said in a statement.

"We urge members and workers to remember that a strike is an act in defence of working-class interests, and it mustn’t result in working-class communities who use these public facilities becoming the unintended casualties of it.

"The federation will never condone acts of violence by anyone, but we also do not accept that all unfortunate incidents can be blamed on striking workers. The police and management should avoid provocative actions that antagonize workers and poison the environment," he said.

Cosatu urged the employers to sit down with unions at Public Service Co-ordinating Bargaining Council to find an amicable solution.

"The employer should engage unions in good faith and realise that the consequences of a full-blown strike will be devastating for the economy and public services," Pamla said.