Do not work if you are not protected - Hospersa tells healthcare workers
Cape Town - Hospersa, the largest union at Netcare St Augustine Hospital, has called on its members to refuse to work where Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is not supplied.
The union has also demanded the temporary closure of Netcare St Augustine Hospital following 48 health workers testing positive for coronavirus Covid-19. Hospersa says that the health and safety of health workers needs to be prioritised for the country to have a fighting chance against coronavirus Covid-19.
Hospersa has called on its members working in public and private health institutions to refuse to work where PPE is not supplied by the employer.
This call is made following 48 health workers from Netcare’s St Augustine Hospital testing positive for the deadly coronavirus Covid-19.
The union had also written to the Minister of Health and to all provincial MECs for health regarding the issue of insufficient PPE in public health facilities and received no response or acknowledgement from most of the offices.
Hospersa is of the view that the Department of Health and private health institutions are legally bound to provide safe and healthy working conditions to its employees and that health workers are within their rights to refuse to put their lives at risk when expected to work in unsafe conditions as per the Occupational Health and Safety Act.
“Hospersa is calling on its members to down tools when PPE is not provided by the employer,” said Hospersa General Secretary Noel Desfontaines.
“We have tried to engage the DoH to address the issue of insufficient PPE but our concerns have not been addressed. We now have no choice but to call on our members to refuse to put their lives at risk and withdraw their labour when PPE is not supplied,” added Desfontaines.
“As the majority union at Netcare, we also reiterate this call to our members at that private health institution following 47 health workers testing positive at Netcare St Augustine Hospital,” said Desfontaines.
“We have also engaged with Netcare on protective measures in place for our members at the various Netcare Hospitals around the country. We have found that the measures in place are insufficient whereby health workers are even expected to wear the same mask for 5 – 7 days which is against the usage recommendations of the supplied masks,” argued Desfontaines.
“We demand Netcare St Augustine Hospital to be closed immediately and infection control to take place before it can be reopened again,” said Desfontaines. ““We are also looking at the legal options available to our members at that hospital should it be proven that Netcare were negligent and placed our members’ lives at risk,” added Desfontaines
“Hospersa emphasizes that the safety of health workers needs to be prioritised as they are the foot soldiers in this fight against Covid-19. Neglecting their plea for basic necessities like PPE puts their lives at risk and decreases the country’s fighting chance against Covid-19,” concluded Desfontaines.