Community health workers still marginalised

Nurses and union members expressing their discontent outside Bertha Gxowa Hospital on May 9.

Angry community health workers recently occupied the Gauteng Health Department head office in central Johannesburg and stayed the night in protest against non-payment and other grievances.

This occurred after a sit-in by disgruntled workers at the MEC of Health’s office in March this year demanding payment of incentive bonuses for 2016/17 and 2017/18.

“I am concerned at the department’s poor handling of labour relations which increases the likelihood of violent incidents like the recent trashing of the Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Hospital,” said Jack Bloom, Gauteng Shadow Health MEC for the DA.

“The non-payment of overtime and performance bonuses is a simmering issue, and lunchtime pickets are being held at hospitals over the national collective bargaining negotiations.”

The labour situation in Gauteng hospitals is allegedly aggravated by the freezing of doctor and nurse posts, which has put pressure on remaining staff to provide services to patients.

ALSO READ: Nurses at Bertha Gxowa picket during their lunch hour

“There is little sign that the department’s turn-around measures are succeeding in resolving the deep-rooted management and financial weaknesses that are destabilising Gauteng hospitals and clinics,” Bloom added.

According to Dr Jatin Ganda, CEO at Bertha Gxowa, trade unions National Health, Education and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu) and the Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa (Denosa) requested to picket during staff lunchtimes on May 2.

“Permission was granted with the understanding that the picketing will not be disruptive.

“The picketing is part of a provincial action secondary to the demand to pay outstanding PMDS (Performance Management and Development System) remuneration,” said Ganda.

However, Ganda requested a court interdict following an incident on May 9, when private vehicles, including two ambulances, were not permitted to leave the hospital.

This was a clear violation of the agreement that picketing would not be disruptive as ambulances being denied entry to or departure from the hospital was in itself disruptive.

“I was informed that a proposal made by the health department, signed by the HOD which required the unions to accept, was rejected on May 23 as some demands from NEHAWU had not been met,” said Ganda.

The GCN contacted Nehawu and Denosa for comment but they are yet to respond.

ALSO READ: Residents of Goodhope informal settlement tired of empty promises and false hope

 

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Contact the newsroom by emailing: Melissa Hart (Editor) [email protected]or Leigh Hodgson (News Editor) [email protected] or Kgotsofalang Mashilo (journalist) [email protected]

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