Public service workers continue with the strike while Nehawu appeals the Labour Court rulling on enforcing the interdict. Picture Credit Welcome Skhosana

By Welcome Skhosana

Mbombela:Execution order by the state delivered by the Labour Court on Wednesday has been appealed by NEHAWU, therefore the strike remains protected. Workers union National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (NEHAWU) in Mpumalanga has expressed disappointment in the provincial health department. The disruption of health services was caused by the rejected 10 percent wage hike by the union while government offers 4.7. Among other workers grievances it is the shortage of staff and the permanent employment of community health workers.

Government claims that health workers cannot strike as they render essential services to the community. However the workers are not backing down. At this stage it is reported that four people have died due to lack of medical neglect in the health sector. The national strike has hindered services in  provincial hospitals and local clinics. Middelburg General Hospital, Witbank General Hospital, Shongwe, Robb Ferreira Hospital in Nelspruit and Shongwe Hospital in Malelane has also been affected.

Local residents who rely on government medication for their chronic ailments such as hypertension, sugar diabetes and tuberculosis suffered a set-back for the past two weeks as they were left stranded.

The union was expecting a response on Thursday however there has been no communication in this regard. A bargaining process has began it will determine the final offer to be given to workers. A final decision now lies with the National Treasury amid the ongoing turmoil. At this stage the strike continues indefinitely.

Provincial Secretary of NEHAWU Mr. Welcome Mnisi said they have since sent a delegation to follow up on this matter. “A memorandum is submitted and there is no response people are taking us seriously. We believe that the Judge made an error of law in arriving at the determination of granting the leave to execute. “As NEHAWU, we remain resolute that no amount of court intimidation by the government will deter us from this noble worthy cause that we have embarked on – fighting for public servants, defending collective bargaining and rights of workers. Equally, we want to register our displeasure on the utterances of the idiot Acting Minister of the Department of Public Service and Administration, Mr Thulas Nxesi in relation to the Public Service Strike. We shall not retreat no surrender. We will fight this department,” he said in a statement.

MEC for health in Mpumalanga, Ms Sasekani Manzini, has appealed to all the workers to return to work during her interview this week on Rise FM. Having launched an appeal’s judgement, the national union will be forging ahead with the Public Service Strike until a determination is made on its appeal at the Labour Court.

“A medical doctor that preferred to remain anonymous went on social media to express her frustration with the strike. I am a medical doctor currently doing my community service at Embhuleni Hospital in eLukwatini , currently working in maternity (Obs and gynae). We are currently affected by the protests happening nationwide led by NEHAWU. On Wednesday the strike was peaceful, we were allowed into the hospital to carry on with our duties. On Thursday, we were denied access until we were called by one of the senior doctors who were already in the hospital for an emergency caesarean section. The clinical manager had negotiated with the strikers to let us in and stated that he would also be waiting for us at the gate so we could go in”.

“Upon arrival at the gate we were still denied access, we then explained that we had an emergency that we needed to attend to in theatre and if we were not let in the mother and baby could complicate and demise, the “gatekeeper” of the protest who is also an employee at the hospital stated that during protests people die anyway. After a minute of me walking into the hospital grounds the “gatekeeper” then followed me, charging violently towards me, he grabbed me by my scrub top and threatened to harm me and tried to grab me to the gate, I held up my arm to stop him from dragging me and he then pushed me violently on a tree on the hospital premises and raised his hand trying to hit me and only then did the security personnel intervene and remove him from me. I have opened a case with the police against him. ”, explained the doctor.

The South African Communist Party (SACP) and the South African Students Congress (SASCO) has joined the strike. Teachers’ union SADTU and police union POPCRU has also threatened to join the strike.





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