RNs - South Africa

Unions in South Africa Boycott Talks

Amy Jeffries, Associated Press, June 4, 2007 Johannesburg - Police arrested a dozen health workers and used a stun grenade to disperse picketers Monday, as wage negotiations struggled to get off the ground, the South African Press Association reported. Negotiators - representing nurses, teachers and other public sector workers - boycotted scheduled talks for most of Monday, after the national health department threatened to fire health workers who failed to show up for work Monday. The department said the country's Labor Relations Act barred workers considered essential service providers, such as nurses, from going on strike. ... Unions

Nurses face the sack

Citizen Reporter & Sapa, June 4, 2007 Johannesburg – Nurses must go back to work or the national Department of Health will fire them. This ultimatum came in reaction to the debilitating effect of the strike on patients nationwide. “If they are not at their workplace (today) we will start the process to terminate their services,” the national director-general of health, Thamsanqa Mseleku, warned yesterday. He said the department was preparing a communique on the ultimatum that would be at all hospitals by 10 AM, and handed to trade union bosses (sic). The ultimatum applies to all health staff and not just those referred to in a Labour Court order which ruled last week that workers who provided emergency health services could not strike. The Democratic Nurses’ Organisation (Denosa) responded last night to the dismissal threat. ... Nurses

S Africa police clash with nurses

BBC News, June 4, 2007 South African police have fired rubber bullets and stun grenades at striking nurses in the port city of Durban. The union activists were reportedly trying to prevent nurses from working. The police say the grenades are not harmful but unions say it was a "brutal" attack. Twelve people have been arrested. After the clashes, the unions boycotted scheduled talks with the government. The unions want a 12% pay rise - double what the government has offered. Earlier, the government warned striking nurses they would be fired unless they return to work by Monday. ... S Africa

Axe hangs over striking nurses

Khanyisile Nkosi & Tebogo Monama, Sowetan, June 4, 2007 Health workers who took part in Friday’s public sector strike might face disciplinary action, the Ministry of Public Service and Administration said yesterday. Spokesman Lewis Rabkin told Sowetan nurses who took part in the strike were in breach of the Labour Relations Act and a court interdict. On Thursday, the labour court granted an interdict prohibiting Cosatu, Nehawu and Denosa from engaging essential services workers in the strike. Nurses and police officers are regarded as essential services workers. Only those who were off duty were allowed to take part in the strike. Rabkin said provincial health departments would have to deal with the nurses who were absent from work. ... Axe

Police fire rubber bullets at protesting nurses

South African Broadcasting Corporation, June 4, 2007 Several striking nurses at Addington Hospital in Durban have been hurt after police used rubber bullets to disperse them. About 20 of the striking nurses have been arrested. Thembeka Mbhele, a police spokesperson, says the nurses were blocking entrances when they were fired at. She says the arrested nurses face criminal charges. Some essential service workers have heeded government's warning that they should arrive at work this morning or face dismissal. Government last week obtained an interdict in the Labour Court ordering all essential services workers to be at their posts. Essential services workers are, by law, not allowed to strike. It is reported that staff members in Cape Town have been reporting for work this morning. ... Police

Cops fire at striking nurses in Durban

Muchena Zigom, Reuters, June 4, 2007 Johannesburg - South African police on Monday fired rubber bullets to disperse a crowd of nurses taking part in a nationwide strike over pay, wounding several, state radio reported. Police also arrested 20 nurses in the incident at a hospital in Durban, the radio said. It quoted police as saying the nurses were blocking entrances to the hospital. Police were not immediately available to comment on the report, but the South African Press Association (Sapa) quoted a police spokesperson as saying there were no shootings, only the arrests of 12 striking workers at Durban's Addington Hospital. Since the start of the strike on Friday, tensions have risen between the government and public workers, increasing fears the mass action will cripple services and hurt South Africa's economy - the biggest on the continent. ... Cops

Health staff to go to work or face dismissal: govt

South African Broadcasting Corporation, June 3, 2007 Thami Mseleku, the health director-general, says they are preparing a communiqué on the ultimatum that will be sent to all hospitals and public service union bosses by tomorrow morning. He says the ultimatum applies to all health staff and not just those who were referred to in a Labour Court order. On Thursday, the court ruled that workers who provided emergency health services could not go on strike. The Labour Court ruling arose out of an urgent interdict by the government. Mseleku has warned health care workers that they face being fired if they do not report for work tomorrow. He says the strike violates patients' basic rights. ... Health

Denosa asks nurses to return to work

South African Broadcasting Corporation, June 3, 2007 The Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa (Denosa) has urged nurses to go back to work. The public service strike action has seriously affected patient care at some government hospitals. Many nurses and other staff have joined the industrial action, despite government's court interdict against essential service workers joining the strike. Madithopa Masemola, the Denosa deputy secretary general, says they support the strike, but it's been clearly stated that essential services should continue. Masemola said: "The challenge that we face as the union is that now reports come out that those nurses are being intimidated, those that want to go back to work. And we cannot risk the lives of nurses because you never know what might happen when they leave their work places. So we urge people out there that are intimidating to say let us people choose whether they go to work or not. At the end of the day we have be seen being unified to fight." ... Denosa

Army called in as South African strike hits hospital patients

AFP, June 3, 2007 Johannesburg - The South African army was called in Sunday to help care for patients at one of the country's largest hospitals after doctors and nurses failed to turn up for work during an ongoing strike. While some critically-ill patients were flown out of Durban's King Edward VIII hospital to receive treatment elsewhere, doctors and nurses from the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) treated other patients who could not be moved, the private E.TV network reported. Public sector workers launched an indefinite strike on Friday in a bid to force the government to meet their demands for a 12 percent pay increase. The government has so far refused to increase their offer of six percent which is around one percentage point below the current rate of inflation. ... Army

Strikers force Dbn ICU closure

Finance24, June 2, 2007 Durban - The intensive care unit (ICU) at Durban's King Edward VIII Hospital, South Africa's second largest, was shut down on Saturday. This was after striking workers reportedly threatened nurses at the unit with knobkerries and whips. Late on Saturday afternoon family members were looking after relatives in the hospitals - changing their dressings and emptying their bedpans. A doctor who spoke on condition of anonymity said he believed it was the first time in the hospitals history that the ICU had been forced to close. Doctors were awaiting ambulances to transfer the critically ill patients to other hospitals including private hospitals. ... Strikers

Bara workers decide to go the whole hog with action

Baldwin Ndaba, South African Star, May 28, 2007 Patients at Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital are going to be on the receiving end of a public servants' industrial action, which began yesterday ahead of a possible national strike. Yesterday, workers met at one of the Soweto hospital's halls and launched a combined work-to-rule and go-slow action. They spent two hours outlining their plans to stringently work to rule until Friday, when a decision to strike indefinitely is expected to be made. However, they also made it clear that the action would be a go-slow, as workers were being advised to take as long as possible in dealing with patients. After the meeting, workers marched into the hospital and then picketed at the entrance. ... Bara

Thousands of South African public workers march for higher pay

Associated Press, May 25, 2007 Cape Town - Tens of thousands of nurses, teachers and other public service workers took to the streets throughout South Africa on Friday to press their demands for a 12 percent pay increase. The trade unions representing more than 1 million workers, including police and prison officers and ambulance drivers, have threatened an indefinite, all-out strike starting June 1 if the government does not agree to their demands. The government has offered a 6 percent pay raise. Armored police vehicles and a massive security presence accompanied the demonstrators to prevent a repeat of the riots that erupted during marches last year by security guards and other workers. There were no reports of violence Friday. ... Thousands

Reinstated nurses still waiting to be paid

Stephanie Saville, Mercury, May 16, 2007 The Health and Other Services Personnel Union of South Africa (Hospersa) has lashed out at the health department, saying that its inefficiency has caused further distress to nurses who were reinstated after being fired by not paying them as promised. Hospersa regional secretary Noel Desfontaines said in a statement on Tuesday that this had been caused by the department's having removed the nurses from its payroll system, despite being warned not to do so until the tribunal investigating the nurses' dismissals had completed its work. "The nurses have not been paid since January, despite the fact that the tribunal has recognised that 365 of them were not guilty of any misconduct." ... Reinstated

'Reinstate fired nurses'

News24, April 21, 2007 Durban - The Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa (Denosa) on Saturday called for the reinstatement of 38 nurses who were fired by the KwaZulu-Natal Health Department earlier this year. "We highly condemn the dismissal of these nurses and feel that the employer should look at other ways of disciplining employees, as dismissal is rather harsh," Denosa spokesperson Asanda Fongqo said in a statement. "The dismissal of these nurses is also creating a huge gap in the hospitals due to the fact that there are gross shortages already. We therefore call on the employer to reinstate these nurses, as this does not only affect them, but also the remaining nurses which then impacts on service delivery." ... Reinstate

KwaZulu-Natal striking nurses fired

SABC News, April 18, 2007 The KwaZulu-Natal health department has fired 38 nurses who joined about 1 000 others in an illegal strike, despite a labour tribunal recommending that they keep their jobs. "The department has taken the stance that these employees' original dismissals are to be confirmed and upheld,” Leon Mbangwa, the departmental spokesperson, said yesterday. The nurses were part of 1 034 who embarked on an illegal strike in January in support of their demands to be paid allowances backdated to July 2003. They were all initially dismissed. ... KwaZulu-Natal

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