HOSPERSA BLASTS LIMPOPO HEALTH FOR USING COVID-19 VACCINES AS A DISPUTE BARGAINING CHIP

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HOSPERSA BLASTS LIMPOPO HEALTH FOR USING COVID-19 VACCINES AS A DISPUTE BARGAINING CHIP

03 March 2021

Hospersa, a Union with more than 60 000 members in both the public and private health sector, has criticised the Limpopo Department of Health (DoH) for threatening to close down vaccination stations in the province if Hospersa and six other unions (NEHAWU, PSA, DENOSA, SAMATU, SAEPU and NPSWU) proceed with their planned strike action next week. The seven unions are in dispute with the Limpopo DoH over working hours after the provincial health department issued circulars with changes in shift rosters. The unions are now planning to go on a protected strike from 8 March 2021 to force the employer to withdraw the circulars and consult with them before making changes to employees working conditions. Hospersa has also condemned the Limpopo DoH for using Covid-19 vaccines as a bargaining chip to threaten members from exercising their rights to strike.

Yesterday afternoon, Hospersa and six other unions held a media briefing in the Limpopo province to announce their intention to embark on industrial action as from 8 March 2021 over their dispute with the provincial health department regarding Circular 43 of 2020 and Circular 4 of 2021. The two circulars were issued by the Limpopo DoH and propose to make changes in the shift rosters of health workers in the province. The Unions have rejected these circulars citing there was no due consultation and have criticised the planned changes. Some of the glaring changes highlighted by the unions include the changing the nurses roster, cutting down of overtime and keeping shifts hours to 40 hours per week which the unions argue to be unilateral changes to working conditions that will have dire consequences to service delivery.

Hospersa and the six other unions have demanded the withdrawal of the two circulars before parties can meet to end the impasse. Instead the Limpopo DoH has now threatened the unions that it will close its vaccination stations to prohibit health workers from receiving the COVID-19 vaccine if the unions proceed with their planned strike actions. Hospersa has labelled this stance as a human rights violation and plans to lay a formal complaint with the Human Rights Commission of South Africa and the National DoH for using COVID-19 vaccines as a bargaining chip to end a labour dispute.

“Hospersa condemns the utterances by the Limpopo Department of Health that it will close vaccine stations for health workers if the planned strike action goes ahead”, said Hospersa Public Relations Officer Kevin Halama. “It is immoral that the Limpopo DoH has now resorted to using the much-needed life-saving vaccines as a bargaining chip to try an end the impasse. Such threats border on human rights violations and should be condemned in the strongest way,” argued Halama.

“Hospersa, together with six other unions, will be continuing with the planned strike action starting next week and have served the provincial health department with a notice which deems our action a protected strike,” said Halama. “We have planned pickets and demonstrations across health institutions in the Limpopo province which includes hospitals, clinics and Emergency Medical Services stations to highlight our grievance,” added Halama.

“The strike action will continue as planned until the provincial health department withdraws the two circulars and allows consultation with unions to take place,” said Halama. “Should the Department [of Health] honour its threats of closing vaccination stations to prohibit health workers from being vaccinated, Hospersa will lay a formal complaint with the Human Rights Commission of South Africa and the National DoH. We view these threats as a violation of the workers’ human right to receive their vaccine jabs as part of the country’s roll-out plans to curb the spread of COVID-19 and we will not allow for life-saving drugs to be used as a bargaining chip to end a genuine labour dispute,” concluded Halama.

 

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For interviews please contact Hospersa Public Relations Officer Kevin Halama – 060-546-8166.

Or

Hospersa Limpopo Provincial Chairperson Bongani Ngwenya – 079 671 3103

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