Nehawu threaten national strike should list of demands not be met

Nehawu marched to the Union Buildings in Pretoria on Thursday 3 September to hand over a list of demands for healthcare workers.

nehawu threaten national strike should list of demands not be met - Nehawu threaten national strike should list of demands not be met

The National Education, Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu) were true to their word and arrived in droves at the Union Buildings in Pretoria on Thursday 3 September to deliver demands that President Cyril Ramaphosa address poor working conditions and insufficient salaries facing SA’s health workers. 

They said that if these calls aren’t heeded, they will embark on the mother of all shutdowns on 10 September, giving the President seven days to decide whether or not the demands are worthy of reform.

Nehawu demanding better wages, working conditions  

Nehawu said that they had decided to gather at the Union Buildings and hand over their extensive list of demands after the State had failed to heed any of their previous calls to better the lives and working conditions of its members. 

“We are demonstrating at a time when we are still mourning the needless deaths of more than 240 healthcare workers with 169 NEHAWU members which account for 83% of the total number across the country and over 14000 South Africans succumbed to COVID-19,” said Nehawu General Secretary Zola Saphetha. 

“There is no justification whatsoever for government’s failure to comply with the occupational health and safety legislation and regulations that seeks to protect workers, especially those in the frontline of combatting the pandemic.”

He reiterated his charge that members of Nehawu are “under siege” from the State, and called exploitation to come to an end. 

“Our members and workers in general are subjected to savage attacks through an increasing rate of exploitation. Most critical is this frontal attack on cornerstone workers gains, namely collective bargaining and the right to strike accompanied by downward variation of their working conditions by both the state and the private sector.”

Makhura thanks health care workers  

Gauteng Premier David Makhura was on hand to recieve the memorandum from Sephetha, and said that health care workers’ needs need to be addressed.

“If it wasn’t for healthcare workers, we wouldn’t have gone through the COVID-19 storm to save as many lives as we have,” he said.

9dbf079a makhura nehawu  - Nehawu threaten national strike should list of demands not be met
Gauteng Premier David Makhura addressing Nehawu members.
Photo: Twitter/Gauteng Provincial Government

Among their demands were the following: 

  1. That COVID-19 not be used as an excuse to reverse the hard fought gains of workers;
  2. That government urgently take steps away from a “neoliberal economic policy paradigm”;
  3. Workplaces undergo risk assessments and infections control, and prevention measures are put in place, and the Occupational Health and Safety Act must be implemented in full to protect workers;
  4. Infected workers must return to work only when they complete the mandatory 10 days of self-isolation, have undergone a medical evaluation confirming fitness to work;
  5. Department of Health must review the process of reporting on COVID-19 fatalities in all institutions to ensure adherence with uniform standards as recommended by the WHO;
  6. Government urgently fill all vacant posts in the public healthcare sector and ensure that we start to build building blocks for the implementation of the National Health Insurance [NHI]. 

Nehawu threaten ‘national shutdown’ if demands aren’t met 

Should these and other demands not be met, then Nehawu said that they would be left with no choice but to embark on a nationwide strike on 10 September that would effectively bring the health system to its knees. 

In their memorandum, they said that situation demanded urgent response. 

“Given the urgency of addressing all the demands above, due to their direct impact on service delivery and the negative on our members, we demand that your office responds to the union within a period of seven days from the day of receipt, failing which we declare our intention to embark on an extensive national campaign aimed at withdrawing our labour power as from 10 September 2020 in all sectors Nehawu organises until our demands are met favourable to workers.” 

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