COSATU International Nurse’s Day Statement

The Congress of South African Trade Unions wishes all nurses a wonderful International Nurse’s Day tomorrow, the 12th of May 2023 under the theme, Our Nurses. Our Future.”. The Federation salutes these courageous and compassionate workers who are the backbone of our health system and our communities in general.

We remember all those who have lost their lives in the line of duty, including those who succumbed to the deadly COVID-19 pandemic two years ago. These heroes and heroines perform their responsibilities with courage despite working under difficult conditions and lacking the necessary equipment.

It is disheartening that the government has continued to wage an austerity war against public servants, amongst whom are the brave and hardworking frontline health and care workers that have seen the country through the most catastrophic period (COVID-19) in terms of public health emergency in a democratic South Africa. 

These austerity cuts have exacerbated the crisis of the shortage of nurses, with South Africa having one of the worst nurse-to-patient ratios in the world. As a result, individual nurses are overloaded and underpaid and subjected to acts of violence by communities frustrated by the public health care system.

The government needs to ensure our creaking public healthcare is fully funded and the current shortfall of R14 billion is plugged. The 97 000 vacancies in the healthcare system need to be filled.  We cannot continue to expect one(1) nurse to cover for two(2) vacancies; nor can we continue to tolerate nurses struggling to find jobs or moving overseas for better-paying jobs. 

It is critical that our healthcare facilities are properly secured and protected.  Our nurses and other healthcare workers should not work under constant fear of being attacked at work by gangs and other criminals.

The Federation acknowledges the important role that these foot soldiers play in the fight against the high quadruple disease burden consuming the country. They remain the backbone in the project of re-engineering our health care system and in rolling out the NHI.  Parliament needs to move with speed to pass the NHI Ball into law so that the building of quality healthcare for all can be realised.

Issued by COSATU

Sizwe Pamla (Cosatu National Spokesperson)
Tel: 011 339 4911
Fax: 011 339 5080
Cell: 060 975 6794