The Health and Allied Workers Indaba Trade Union (HAITU) has vowed to intensify its protest against the Department of Health and its MEC, Dr Phophi Ramathuba.
This comes after the trade union recently marched to the department’s offices in Polokwane on Friday.
During the march, members of the union, led by union general secretary Lerato Mthunzi, handed over a memorandum of demands following a range of issues the union had raised with the department.
Some of the demands made by the union include the absorption of Covid-19 contract workers into permanent workers and filling vacant posts.
There have been concerns over the shortage of nurses in Limpopo, with the unions saying the province was failing to fill vacant positions.
In March, Ramathuba announced that all clinics would operate on a 24-hour basis.
Mthunzi said the MEC is failing to fulfil some of her promises
“The Limpopo health department, under the leadership of Dr Phopi Ramathuba, is failing to deliver and instead of solving problems. Dr Ramathuba likes to parade health workers on social media and scapegoat them for failures of the department,” Mthunzi said.
She said health workers in the province were being exploited and forced to work long hours due to unfilled vacant posts.
“Healthcare workers are under immense pressure because of the department’s failure to implement changes to improve standards in public hospitals and clinics. One of the most urgent tasks is to fill all vacancies in the hospitals, and this can be done by insourcing all workers.
The Limpopo Health Department has a duty to comply with the provisions of 198B of the Labour Relations Act, which states that an employee who has been employed on a fixed-term basis for longer than three months can be considered to be a permanent employee,” she added.
Mthunzi said exploitation of workers should come to an end, with those employed on contract basis considered for permanent posts.
“We demand that the department must stop exploiting workers through short-term contracts and employ them permanently to address the gross shortage of healthcare professionals and support staff.
“We demand that the Limpopo Department of Health must fill the 1 200 vacant positions, which includes the 340 vacant posts for speciality nurses. They must reverse the senseless decision to let go of 706 nurses.
“We demand that the 80 community doctors which the department delayed to place, must be prioritised and placed immediately in rural areas to ease the pressure caused by the dire shortage of doctors in the province,” she said.
The union said it had given Dr Ramathuba seven days to respond to their demands, and should the department fail, they would intensify their protests.
“We have given Dr Ramathuba seven working days to respond to our demands. Failure to respond means that we will intensify our mass action. We should not have to resort to protests and marches to get the department to do its work. What we are demanding are basic standards which are necessary to improve the quality of healthcare in our communities,” Mthunzi said.