RNs - South Africa

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Crucial Puzzle of Picking Up the Pieces

Andrew Levy, Business Day (Johannesburg), July 3, 2007 Much public
speculation centres on whether the recent public service strike was
handled well by the government. Often, the comments are negative,
either on the grounds that the strike should never have happened at
all, or that the government is to blame because the wages of nurses and
teachers are so low. Both readings are simplistic, and don't get to
grips with the real concerns arising from the strike. The notion that
strikes should not occur and, if they do, they reflect some
incompetence on the part of the employer, is nonsense - just as much as
is the notion that union claims should be judged as being reasonable or
greedy. ... Crucial

Hospitals left with backlog as workers return

Lee Rondganger, Johannesburg Star, July 2, 2007 There was semblance of normality at Johannesburg Hospital as hospital workers began trickling back to work after the longest mass action in recent history. On Sunday, the most obvious sign that the strike was over was the absence of armed soldiers at the hospital. The soldiers were deployed at hospitals during the second week of the strike to maintain order and help non-striking staff. But nurses still didn't wear uniforms, while security guards took up the posts vacated by the soldiers. "On Monday we will be back in full uniform," one nurse said. ... Hospitals

Fired nurses to be reinstated

News24, June 28, 2007 Johannesburg - Nurses fired for joining the public servants' strike would be reinstated as part of efforts to normalise health care delivery, the department of health said on Thursday. About 2 700 nurses were sacked for defying a court order which banned their participation, as essential services workers, in the three-week strike. Department spokesperson Sibani Mngadi said their dismissals would be withdrawn and be replaced with a final written warning when they returned to their posts. He said nurses had begun returning to their posts even before the strike was finally settled at a 7.5% increase, compared to the 12% the workers had originally been aiming for. The department was reviewing the cumulative effect of the strike and how much it owed the private facilities that accepted patients when hospitals were closed either through fears of violence or through a depleted nursing corps. ... Fired

Teachers’ union says wage agreement favours nurses

South African Broadcasting Corporation, June 28, 2007
Jake Dikobo, the Professional Educators’ Union (PEU) president, says the public service wage agreement is biased against teachers and favours nurses. This comes after most members of the labour caucus, except some teacher unions, indicated that they would accept the government's 7.5% wage increase offer. Dikobo says PEU will take the matter to the Education Labour Relations Council. He says government has agreed to withdraw all the dismissal letters issued to striking officials and replace them with final warnings. However, the no work no pay principle will still apply but the money will be deducted over a period of three months. The Health and Other Service Personnel Trade Union of SA was the first public sector union to sign government's settlement proposal.

Nurses picket outside council offices

Sapa, June 27, 2007 Pretoria – A handful of nurses picketed outside the offices of the SA Nurses Council (SANC) in Pretoria on Wednesday demanding that disciplinary action not be taken against them for participating in the public service strike. “We are demanding the council does not institute any disciplinary action against nurses, as this issue has already been dealt with,” general secretary of the SA Democratic Nurses Union (Sadnu) Freddie Mohai said. He said that after the health department threatened nurses with dismissal for taking part in the strike, the Bargaining Council secured the safe return of nurses to their jobs and that the only penalty received by nurses would be written warnings. “The council is undermining this achievement made at the Bargaining Council,” he said. ... Nurses

Court says Khayelitsha health services must reopen

South African Broadcasting Corporation, June 26, 2007
The Cape High Court has ordered the Western Cape government to ensure that health services in Khayelitsha are fully reinstated with immediate effect. The Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) brought the application after 41 health care workers were dismissed for participating in the public service strike. Handing down judgment, Judge Siraj Desai said the court was not the right forum to rule on their dismissal. It could only rule on the effect their dismissal had on patients. The case had been brought by the TAC and not the workers themselves. Desai said that they should take their grievances to the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) or the Labour Court. He ordered the government to ensure the immediate reinstatement of health services affected by the dismissals.

Striking Limpopo nurses urged to return to work

SABC, June 26, 2007
The Limpopo health department is appealing to health workers, especially nurses, to return to work with immediate effect. Phuti Seloba, the health spokesperson, says members of the South African National Defence Force, who have been helping out at the hospitals since the beginning of the strike, are tired and need a rest. Seloba says although workers have the right to strike, patients also have the right to medical care. Seloba says the department is making a humble plea to all out workers and more particularly to nurses to return to work. He says the situation at seven of hospitals in not very good and now that members of the South African Defence Force have been working back to back for 24 hours since the beginning of the strike, they feel that they need to be a

Council urged to withdraw charges against nurses

South African Broadcasting Corporation, June 26, 2007 The South African Democratic Nurses' Union (Sadnu) has called on the South African Nursing Council to reconsider its position on charging nurses that were on strike. The Council Executive Committee is meeting today and tomorrow. One of the issues on the agenda is a resolution to charge the nurses that were on strike. Moeketsi Mohai, the Sadnu general secretary, says they have secured the jobs of the nurses through the Public Service Co-ordinating Bargaining Council and are outraged that nurses should suffer double jeopardy. Mohai says they demand the return of nurses to work, with no conditions. ... Council

Nurses‘ safety ‘not guaranteed‘

Mawande Jack, Port Elizabeth Herald, June 26, 2007 The Democratic Nurses Organisation of SA (Denosa) said yesterday it would not guarantee the safety of nurses in or outside hospitals who refused to join the public sector strike. The nurses‘ organisation issued the warning as incidents of intimidation and threats to nurses lives escalated as the public sector strike entered its 17th day without any resolution in sight. Eastern Cape Denosa secretary Kholiswa Tota said there had been incidents where unidentified people went into hospitals, intimidating and assaulting non- striking nurses and other health workers. Tota said attacks on nurses were widespread in Transkei and some had occurred at hospitals including Dora Nginza, Livingstone and Uitenhage Provincial. ... Nurses

Denosa shocked by the Nursing Council call for nurses to go back to work

Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa, June 13, 2007

The Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa, Denosa, is shocked to  learn that the South African Nursing Council is calling the nurses to go back to  work despite the current situation.

We strongly condemn the assertions by the council. It is impossible for our  members to go back to their duties without any form of guarantee with regard to  their safety. We want to reiterate that the blame, with regard to the provision of  services should not be directed to nurses, rather the employer who has up to  date failed to meet the demands of the unions and failed to ensure safety of the  employees.

It is imperative to emphasise that Denosa is acting collectively with our fellow  affiliates with regard to the justified and revised demand of a 10% increase. We  therefore call all our members not to go back to work until their safety has been  assured in workplaces. We cannot, as Denosa compromise the safety of our  members and the safety of their families.

Taking the Plight of the Nurses to the Public

Telling it as it is remains our responsibility as a nursing organisation.
Wear your pins – tell it like it is!
Democratic Nursing Organisation

We are short staffed and everyone knows that, but what has happened and how bad it is needs to be understood. Let's look at the actual figures according to the Health Systems Trust Health Review 2003\2004:

  • Between 2001 and 2003 the workload of the public sector has grown. The number of people with Medical Aid has shrunk from 17% in 1997 to 15.2% in 2002. More patient load!
  • From 2001 and 2003 the public sector lost 99,001 (37%) posts. Fewer Nurses! (More detail in Nursing Update February 2005).
  • Add to this loss, the 31.1% vacancies in the South African health sector, which translates into 52 574 vacant posts.

On a daily basis nurses are doing things that are outside their Scope of Practice because there aren’t enough nurses and doctors to fulfill all the roles and functions in the work situation. ... Taking

'Dr Beetroot' sacks nurses who prayed for her

Stephen Bevan, Sunday Telegraph, June 17, 2007 Pretoria - South Africa's controversial health minister, nicknamed Dr Beetroot for urging Aids patients to combat the disease with beetroot and garlic rather than anti-retroviral drugs, has given her opponents a headache within days of returning from prolonged sick leave. Back to work three months after undergoing a liver transplant after a lengthy battle with hepatitis, Dr Manto Tshabalala-Msimang wasted no time in redressing a new climate of cooperation that had been forged between Aids activists and government officials in her absence. Dr Tshabalala-Msimang, South Africa's controversial health minister, Dr Manto Tshabalala-Msimang, has sacked striking nurses after returning from prolonged sick leave. ... Dr

General strike hits South Africa

Barbara Slaughter, World Socialist Web Site, June 15, 2007 More than half a million workers marched through the towns and cities of South Africa on June 13. They were amongst the hundreds of thousands of workers taking one-day solidarity strike action in support of the all-out strike of public service workers that had entered its 13th day. They included municipal workers, taxi and bus drivers, electricity and cleaning workers, administrative staff and officials from border posts and airports. The sympathy strike received massive support all over the country. Essential services were affected, and cities like Durban were brought to a complete standstill. Some workers who did not take strike action also took part in lunchtime protests. The strike of nearly 1 million public service workers began on June 1. It involves 17 unions, including teachers, nurses and other civil servants. They came out in support of a demand for an across-the-board increase of 12 percent, plus increases in health and housing benefits. ... General

Support needed for public sector workers in SA

Public Services International, June 14, 2007 PSI has received a request for political support from its affiliates in South Africa. Public sector trade unions in South Africa called a general strike on 1 June following a break down in negotiations with the government. The unions are asking for a 10 per cent salary increase (originally 12 per cent), whilst the government is proposing a possible rise of 7.25 per cent. Meanwhile, proposed salary increases of 57% for the State President and 37% for Members of Parliament have fuelled the union’s disillusionment. The government has retaliated to the strike action by issuing letters of dismissal to more than 600 "essential-service" workers, mainly health care workers, and threatening to dock the pay of many others. The government has also deployed police and defence forces in attempts to curb the strike action. ... Support

ANC power struggle looms as more join SA's strike

Soldiers man hospitals after nurses are sacked, President Mbeki accused of enriching black elite. Chris McGreal, Guardian, June 14, 2007 Johannesburg - South African trade unions have launched one of the biggest national strikes of the post-apartheid era in a move widely seen as spearheading the left's challenge to win control of the ruling African National Congress ahead of next year's presidential election. The unions called out hundreds of thousands of members in support of public sector workers who have already been on strike for a fortnight, forcing schools to close and hospitals to treat only emergency cases. Municipal workers joined the strike yesterday, shutting down rubbish collection, maintenance of power supplies and public transport. ... ANC

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