RNs - South Africa

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Screaming to be heard

Teachers, nurses and doctors demand a larger share of the country's prosperity. The Economist, June 14, 2007 Johannesburg - Beauty, a 31-year-old teacher living in Soweto, Johannesburg's main black township, is struggling to make ends meet. As a substitute teacher in a state school during the day, and teaching adults at night, she earns about 4,000 rand ($553) a month and supports ten relatives. The school principal, who has been teaching for over 26 years, is only a bit better off, with her monthly 6,500 rand; her deputy, a single mother in her 50s, lives with her parents, unable to afford a place of her own. Nurses and doctors, discouraged by low pay and difficult working conditions, have left the country's hospitals in droves, leaving too many vacancies unfilled. So on June 1st, a few weeks before the ruling African National Congress party is due to host a policy conference, public-sector workers launched one of the largest strikes in the country's recent history. ... Screaming

Denosa condemns dismissal letters issued to nurses

Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa, June 14, 2007 As the Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa, we have noted and taking great interest in the developments at different workplaces. The volatile nature of these happenings confirms the dissatisfaction from the workers as a result of the lack of movement by the employer on the 6,5% even after we as collective unions moved from our initial 12% to 10%. ... Denosa

Thousands more back S Africa strike

Al Jazeera, June 13, 2007 Thousands of South African workers have marched in sympathy with striking civil servants, highlighting the divide between the ruling African National Congress and its trade union allies. Central Johannesburg came to a standstill as about 15,000 union supporters chanted slogans denouncing the government of Thabo Mbeki, the president. Marchers thronged the streets of other major cities, including Cape Town, on Wednesday. Many belonged to the powerful Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu), allied with the ANC and the South African Communist Party. Political analysts say the public service strike, which began on June 1, has turned into a demonstration of workers' power ahead of a leadership meeting this year that could see the ANC name a successor to Mbeki. ... Thousands

SACP condemns state led violence meted to the workers

South African Communist Party, June 13, 2007 The SACP strongly condemns a series of state led violence directed at the workers who have been marching peacefully during the current public sector strike. These actions are provocative in the extreme and are aimed at demoralizing workers through intimidation. The shooting at workers in Kimberley today is a case in point. Unleashing police brutality against peaceful demonstrators for a legitimate demand such as a decent living wage is only to invite problems and open a window for the opportunism that we have already seen creeping into the strike with some elements trying to turn this into a violent strike. We also call upon senior government leaders to condemn all acts of violence and intimidation from whichever quarter it emerges, including the police. We must desist from one-sided, anti-worker and selective condemnation of violence, whilst turning a blind eye to state initiated violence against striking workers. ... SACP

Union says injury to one is injury to all

Mail & Guardian, June 13, 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 (ANC) ahead of next year's presidential election. Public-service unions are determined not to back down on their demands, Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi said on Wednesday. "We are not moving back ... not one inch," he told several thousand people at a strike rally outside the gates of Parliament in Cape Town. "So the government has a choice: Do they see a long winter or do they want to settle?" ... Union

Unions snub mediated pay proposal

Sapa, June 12, 2007 Pretoria - Less than an hour before they were scheduled to resume talks with government negotiators on Tuesday, all the public-service unions rejected a 7,25% wage increase proposal brokered by mediators. "This is not substantially different from the 6% that the government has been offering for many weeks," Willie Madisha, president of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu), said on behalf of all unions. "The unions remained ready to engage but on the basis of a serious offer being placed on the table," he said. ... Unions

Total Shutdown!

Suthentira Govender, Subashni Naidoo, Buddy Naidu & Julian Rademeyer, Sunday Times, June 10, 2007 Now strikers threaten to also target private schools and private hospitals. The civil service strike is threatening to spill over into the country’s private schools and hospitals as union officials target those “aiding the government” by providing essential services. Troops moved onto hospital grounds and school premises this week and education authorities postponed midyear school exams in five of the nine provinces as the most devastating strike in post-apartheid South Africa took its toll. ... Total

Striking nurses face axe

Sthembiso Msomi, City Press, June 9, 2007 Thousands of striking nurses are to be fired tomorrow as the battle between government and public-sector unions taks a new turn for the worse. Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang and Public Service and Administration Minister Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi yesterday announced that the government will start issuing letters of termination of service to nurses who have refused to return to work. “The letters of termination of service are being issued primarily against those health workers who have failed to respond to the ultimatum issued by the department of health last weekend. Severe action will also be taken against those who are involved in intimidation activities,” the two ministers said in a statement. Provincial health departments will start issuing the letters to nurses tomorrow morning. The move comes just days after the state deployed police and the army in a number of public hospitals and schools in an attempt to prevent a “complete shut-down” of such institutions. ... Striking

Striking nurses 'on thin ice'

Sapa, June 9, 2007 The health department has decided to start issuing striking nurses with their walking orders, it said on Saturday. This, at a meeting between Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang and Public Service and Administration Minister Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi, said health spokesperson Sibani Mngadi. He said the issuing of termination of services letters would start on Saturday. Provincial health departments would determine who had been involved in the strike and would fire them under the Labour Act. Health director general Thami Mseleku was expected to give more details at a briefing on Saturday afternoon. Mseleku last week ordered nurses to return to work, or face dismissal. The nurses are striking for better pay, along with the rest of the public service. ... Striking

South Africa's COSATU ups strike pressure on gov't

Muchena Zigomo, Reuters, June 7, 2007 Johannesburg - South Africa's powerful COSATU labour federation on Thursday called for all its members to plan for a strike next Wednesday, increasing pressure on the government to reach a wage deal with striking civil servants. COSATU, which represents more than a million South African workers in key sectors including mining and manufacturing, said in a news release that "every union will work towards a complete strike on Wednesday 13 June" in solidarity with striking civil servants unions. "COSATU will not allow a defeat of the public sector strike. The implications of such a defeat to workers as a whole would be devastating," the union federation said following a meeting of its Central Executive Committee. ... South

Health services still affected by strike

South African Broadcasting Corporation, June 6, 2007 The strike is still affecting services in hospitals in the Pretoria area. However, some of the nurses have returned to work under threat of dismissal. Hospital workers have been defying a government interdict against essential services staff going on strike. Earlier today, a nurse working at Ga-Rankuwa hospital said they just want to be given enough money to afford a good quality life. Christine Kungwane, a nurse working in Saudi Arabia, said she would come back home if they were to be paid a living wage but as the situation stands now, they do not see that happening. ... Health

Strike Isn't a War of Percentages - Fraser-Moleketi

Vivian Warby, BuaNews (Tshwane), June 6, 2007 Cape Town - The current strike is "not a war about percentages", Public Service and Administration Minister Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi said Tuesday, adding that the ball is firmly in the unions' court now. Emphasising a percentage when it was just one item in a service and remuneration package, she explained, would not be in the best interests of the country as a whole and would be inflationary. The government is presently offering public service workers a 6.5 percent wage increase, while they are demanding a 12 percent increase. The comprehensive 6.5 percent increase includes occupation specific dispensations for various professionals over and above this. ... Strike

South African strikers enforce stoppage with iron fist

AFP, June 6, 2007 Durban - Violence and intimidation by union hardliners has led to the crippling of health services and widespread school closures in South Africa's increasingly rancorous public sector strike. Hospital chiefs say they have been forced to turn away desperately ill patients after doctors and nurses failed to turn up for work and there have been a number of attacks on teachers, including a headmistress who was whipped in her own school. "It's terrible, terrible," Mboneni Bekitshwayo, chief executive of Durban's giant King Edward VIII hospital, said Wednesday, describing how the trauma unit, intensive care unit and operating theatres had all been forced to close due to the absence of trained staff. ... South

Nurses are forced to strike

But intimidated EC health workers are told: ‘Your safety is guaranteed’. Mayibongwe Maqhina, Malungelo Booi, Avuyile Mngxitama & Sabelo Ndlangisa, Dispatch, June 5, 2007 As relations between health workers and the state deteriorated yesterday, nurses in the Eastern Cape claimed they had been intimidated into joining the strike. In Transkei, nurses were forced to join pickets by toyi-toying public servants, said Kholiswa Tota of the Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa. And at Port Elizabeth’s Dora Nginza Hospital, she said, a group of unidentified people had threatened nurses working in wards. “We are not sure who these people are,” she added. Provincial Health Department spokesperson Sizwe Kupelo said the department was aware of nurses also being intimidated in Lusikisiki. ... Nurses

Confusion reigns over nurses strike

Sapa, June 5, 2007 Confusion reigned on Tuesday over whether nurses belonging to some trade unions in the Western Cape had abandoned the public service strike and gone back to work. National Education, Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu) provincial secretary Suraya Jawoodeen said nurses from the Democratic Nurses Organisation of SA (Denosa) and the Public and Allied Workers Union of SA (Pawusa) had not joined the strike at certain hospitals on Tuesday. However, she later told Sapa that some nurses from these unions had returned to striking. She said it was not clear what had happened, but that some of the nurses may have been scared by the department of health's threat to dismiss strikers. A spokesman for Denosa, Asanda Fongqo gave contradictory responses to questions about the union's position in the strike. ... Confusion

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