The Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa (DENOSA) National Executive Committee (NEC) has resolved to fully support the National Day of Action by union federations COSATU and FEDUSA on 7 October in defence of collective bargaining, rampant corruption and job losses among others, and DENOSA is forewarning communities of the potential slow pace of service in health facilities as nurses will ‘work to rule’* on this day.
DENOSA encourages nurses who will be off during this day to join the provincial marches where COSATU will be delivering the memorandum. DENOSA will be embarking on a nationwide programme to mobilise nurses for this day, and nurses will be showing their unhappiness through pickets in the lead up to the 7th of October.
Nurses who are the majority of health professionals who got infected and affected by the COVID-19 pandemic in the workplace are more than ready to take part in this important day for the voice and rights of workers in all provinces.
In the health sector, the well-documented many challenges that healthcare workers have been faced within the recent past through bargaining chambers, office of the Health Ministry and even the Presidency have remained unresolved. The only remaining avenue left for workers was the decision on their labour; and they will work to rule on this day.
Workers like nurses, those employed in the public sector, have not been paid their salary adjustment since 1 April this year until today, despite their commitment to their work during the most uncertain period for humanity. And neither have they been paid COVID-19 risk allowance despite working with a dangerous virus that has wiped more than 1 million people from the world, including thousands of nurses.
Throughout our feedback sessions with nurses on the endless delays by government in dispute processes over the non-adjustment of their salaries in line with Resolution 1 of 2018, nurses have expressed frustration and readiness to take to the streets and exercise their rights as workers if that is what it will take for government to listen to genuine and reasonable demands of workers.
Because of non-employment of additional nurses and support staff in healthcare facilities by government, nurses are forced by their conscience to do work of three or more other workers who are unemployed. Over and above doing overwork in nursing duties, many nurses also work as cleaners, porters and clerks which is more than a normal person can do.
For its part, DENOSA has taken the steps to advance the call to support nurses in the following ways:
– We tabled issues of poor safety, the need to pay nurses Covid-19 risk allowance and the need to support healthcare workers during the peak of COVID-19 in the country with the ministry of health. Nothing positive came from this engagement.
– We tabled at the bargaining chamber, where issues of conditions of service and remuneration are discussed in government, the urgent need for nurses to be paid a COVID-19 risk allowance as matter of urgency, including the transportation arrangement for essential workers during Level 5 National Lockdown as it was too expensive for nurses to pay double the taxi fare than they used to during normal operation of public transport. Again, nothing positive came from this engagement.
– DENOSA together with other unions, have lodged dispute over blatant refusal by government to adjust the government workers’ salaries for the last leg of the three-year agreement as agreed and signed at the bargaining tables in May 2018. Government is still hell-bent on defying implementing this agreement.
– As a last resort, DENOSA wrote an open letter to the State President, Cyril Ramaphosa, appealing for his intervention into the many unresolved issues affecting nurses. Nothing positive came of this attempt.
While nurses are regarded as essential service workers, there is nothing to show from government that they are indeed essential service workers.
DENOSA is drawing up its own programme for nurses to part take in as a lead up to the national day of action on 7 October.
*’Work to rule’: To follow official working rules and hours exactly in order to reduce output and efficiency, especially as a form of industrial action.
Issued by the Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa (DENOSA)
For more information, contact:
Cassim Lekhoathi, DENOSA Acting General Secretary
Cell: 082 328 9671
Simon Hlungwani, DENOSA President
Cell: 082 328 9635
Tel: 012 343 2315