Following confirmed reports of province wide strike action by members of the National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) disrupting service delivery at public hospitals since this morning, it was learnt that Health MEC Phophi Ramathuba and the management of her department are trying to gain an interdict against the union’s provincial leadership, its members and all striking workers at hospitals from the Polokwane High Court.
The majority of hospitals are reportedly in chaos due to the strike.
“At the majority of hospitals there is no service delivery and circumstances are chaotic,” Department of Health Spokesperson Derrick Kganyago told Polokwane Observer minutes ago.
He said management was doing their best, trying to talk to workers at hospitals, but few were cooperating at this stage. He apologised for the inconvenience experienced by patients and visitors to hospitals and asked people to be alert. “Things are not running normally,” he said.
An outpatient trapped on the premises of Mankweng Hospital said the gates were closed and she was inside. She said there were a lot of people, clothed in red and black, inside and outside the gates and no-one was allowed to go in or out of the premises. She said nurses, doctors and other workers form part of the striking crowd and No services were being rendered.
No comment could be sourced from the leadership of the Nehawu Provincial secretary or Chairperson, as their phones were not being answered.
Earlier this week similar action by Nehawu members in Gauteng allegedly lead to the deth of a six-month-old baby allegedly due to being moved between care centres on Friday because striking social workers affiliated to Nehawu barricaded entrances at centres. This apparently prevented access to essential supplies like food and medication.
Nehawu National Spokesperson Khaya Xaba reportedly said the union did not take responsibility for the baby’s death and the strike as Government had known since 10 February of the union’s intention to a strike and “were supposed to put measures in place… and have other mechanisms to deal with the impact of a strike.”
Kganyago said the strike was illegal as hospital staff is part of essential services.
Story: NELIE ERASMUS