The Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa (DENOSA) is saddened to note that the President, in his announcement of relief packages, completely forgot about nurses who are on the ground and in the coal-face of the COVID-19, which has left a bitter taste as many of them fight this war bare hands.
The announcement has cemented nurses’ long-held view that they are not appreciated despite their great contribution, most of which has seen many patients recovering from COVID-19.
The announcement has left nurses with the message that says they are on their own, because they are enduring the following hardships as a result of COVID-19:
a) Nurses’ salaries have not been adjusted as of 1 April as per the collective agreement, and DENOSA and other unions have to declare a dispute at PSCBC (which has been set for 28 to 30 April) against government not honouring the agreement;
b) Transport expenditure has doubled for them because they often have to take longer and connecting routes to their places of work with no support with transportation from the Department of Health;
c) Nurses have to endure a decreased disposable income now as a result of the lockdown at the time when their salaries have not been adjusted, when countries like Ghana have given tax breaks for four months to assist health workers as a gesture of appreciation for their work of selflessness during this period;
d) Many nurses still work without Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in facilities and are exposed to the danger of contracting the virus – and many others already have – and their calls for payment of Risk Allowance for COVID-19, like other essential workers are getting, has fallen on deaf ears so far.
e) Nurses’ Uniform Allowance, which should have been paid to them for this financial year (which began in April), has not been paid to them when other essential service workers are getting multiple pairs of full uniform. And it normally takes up to July and boycott of wearing uniform before they are paid this Allowance;
f) Still there is no counseling support for them at this time of need in facilities as more COVID-19 patients are admitted and no additional staff is hired.
Therefore, DENOSA would like to highlight that nurses are extremely disappointed that not a single one of the above challenges has been acknowledged and addressed by Cabinet. This has deflated their morale to extreme low, and it is not unreasonable to feel the way they do.
DENOSA’s message to President and Minister of Health is that it is still not too late to address this oversight. As a matter of urgency, DENOSA national leaders are currently seeking an audience with both the Minister of Health and President over these urgent matters.
Overall, DENOSA welcomes the various relief packages that the President announced because poverty as a result of the lockdown was threatening to create a new health crisis for many patients who are on chronic medication and would not be able to take their medication on empty stomachs.
We welcome the setting aside of funds to address staffing, because the reality is that South Africa has far too few health workers to handle COVID-19 if it were to rise to catastrophic levels. We will continue to make noise in this area, because it is in the best interest of communities to have enough health workers.
We acknowledge the commitment to procure PPEs, but we will not dwell much on this because these should have been provided long time ago as it is expected of every caring employer.
Issued by the Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa (DENOSA)
For more information, contact:
Simon Hlungwani, DENOSA President
Cassim Lekhoathi, DENOSA Acting General Secretary