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23 April 2020

Hospersa, a Union of more than 60 000 health workers in the public and private health sector, has raised concerns over the increasing mood of discontent amongst its health workers wanting to join forces with other health workers threatening to go on strike over the non-response to their concerns by government. Health workers are distraught that they were ignored by President Ramaphosa when he announced his R500 billion stimulus package.  The Union is concerned that calls for health workers to suspend their services will be identified by disgruntled health workers unless government addresses their demands.

On the eve of President Ramaphosa’s national address on new lockdown measures, there are growing calls amongst health workers to embark on industrial action over government’s failure to show appreciation towards its foot soldiers [health workers] during this fight.  These calls come at the back of the State President’s announcement of the R500 billion stimulus package which made no mention of budget allocations towards any incentive for health workers following the non-implementation of salary increases for public servants which should have been paid in April in terms of a collective agreement signed three years ago.  Hospersa has warned government against taking health workers’ plea for granted which could lead to the country reversing all the gains made during the fight against COVID-19.

“Hospersa is concerned over the brewing mood amongst health workers to resort to industrial action,” said Hospersa General Secretary Noel Desfontaines.  “We have received numerous concerns from our members that government is failing to show appreciation for their efforts during this fight against COVID-19.  Our members have criticised the State President for not announcing any relief for health workers in the R500 billion stimulus package and are now weighing their options which includes downing tools,” added Desfontaines.

“On 9 April 2020, Hospersa called for tax exemption for all categories of health workers during the fight against COVID-19,” said Desfontaines.  “We have called for the employer to provide safer transport for health workers during the COVID 19 pandemic as most employees in public and private health facilities make use of public transport to reach their workplaces.  We have also called for regular screening of health workers, rotation of staff and counselling facilities to deal with the anxiety amongst health workers created by this deadly virus.  Sadly all our calls have fallen on deaf ears,” argued Desfontains.

“It is difficult for members to comprehend that merely a month after the employer pleaded poverty when refusing to implement a negotiated collective agreement that the government can now announce a R500 billion stimulus.” said Desfontaines.  “This disregard of showing appreciation to the foot soldiers of the fight against COVID-19 is adding fuel to an already brewing fire.  We warn government to listen to health workers’ pleas for the country to remain on course in defeating COVID-19,” said Desfontaines.

“While industrial action in the health sector is not ideal and not promoted by HOSPERSA, our members also have a right to voice out their grievances against the employer and demand support from their Union. We will support them in their action but we also remain adamant that government will take heed to our concerns and address the brewing tension which could hinder the country’s fight against COVID-19,” concluded Desfontaines.



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For more information please contact Hospersa Public Relations Officer – Kevin Halama 060-546-8166

 Hospersa – Worker Empowerment

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