HOSPERSA OUTRAGED BY FAILURE TO PROTECT NON-STRIKERS IN LIMPOPO
29 March 2017
The Health and Other Service Personnel Trade Union of South Africa (Hospersa) has written to the Limpopo Department of Health (DoH) requesting the protection of its members from striking employees. The Union is outraged that government has failed to provide a safe working environment for its members even after government was granted a High Court interdict that prohibits the intimidation and threatening of non-striking employees. Hospersa has called for an urgent bilateral meeting with the Department to address the safety concerns of its members.
In a series of letters addressed to the Head of Department (HoD) in Limpopo, Hospersa has notified the Limpopo DoH that the Union and its members do not form part of the unprotected strike currently taking place in health facilities. In the correspondence, Hospersa has raised concerns that its members are barred entry into work premises and intimidated by the striking workers.
Hospersa has called on the DoH in Limpopo to urgently address the Union’s concerns as bound by the High Court interdict against the striking members. The interdict states that striking members are prevented from intimidating, threatening and assaulting non-striking workers as well as from disrupting services. Hospersa has also called for an urgent bilateral meeting with the DoH to discuss and address the unions concerns. Since 23 March 2017, the Union has written three letters to the DoH seeking the intervention.
In the letters, Hospersa emphasised its position regarding the strike, raising concerns of reported intimidation targetted at its non-striking members. “Hospersa and its members are not part of the strike action taking place in the majority of the health facilities, but still our members are prevented from entering their workplaces by the striking workers,” said Hospersa Limpopo Provincial Secretary, JJ Mashego. “What is more shocking is that the employer has seemingly abandoned its responsibility of providing protection for non-striking workers and has come across as condoning the unprotected strike,” he added.
In one of the letters (dated 23 March 2017), Hospersa informs the DoH that its members in Limpopo have been left with no choice but resolve to stay away from work due to the intimidation. “A High Court interdict was granted to the Department of Health on 22 March 2017 which makes provision for the employer to act upon intimidation against non-striking members,” said Mashego. “The DoH has failed to act on this interdict and now our members have been left with no choice but resort to staying away from work for their own safety,” he added.
Hospersa also made it clear that the principle of “no work, no pay” cannot be fairly applied under such circumstances. “It would be unfair for our members to suffer the same fate of pay-cuts whereas the employer has failed to ensure a safe working environment for them,” said Mashego.
Hospersa gathers that certain health care institutions are even being closed down. Apparently the employer instructed security guards not to allow entry of any workers onto the premises – even those who are not on strike and want to work.
This also has a knock-on effect on service delivery. Hospersa received reports that Emergency Medical Services (EMS) workers now have to scramble to find operational facilities to take injured members of the community. This is a direct result of this misguided decision by the employer.
“It is both premature and tragic to deny essential health care to communities instead of improving the security of the premises for the non-striking workers,” Mashego said. “We feel that the DoH has taken a relaxed approached to the strike situation while members of the community bear the brunt. Our members remain committed to providing essential health care service to communities, but this has to be on condition that the employer acts on its obligation to provide a safe working environment during the strike,” Mashego concluded.
Hospersa has called for an urgent bilateral meeting with the DoH to address its concerns and find a solution. To date, the DoH has yet to respond to the Union’s letters.
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For interviews please contact Hospersa Limpopo Provincial Secretary JJ Mashego on 083-657-6626
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