DENOSA response to provocative Circular by National Department of Health on provision of uniform for nurses.

DENOSA calls on the public sector nurses to wear their own clothes at work on 1 October 2023 if neither uniform is provided nor Uniform Allowance is paid…

PRETORIA – The Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa (DENOSA) no longer notes with shock the continuing disdain and blatant undermining of collective bargaining by the government, with the latest incident being the recent circular issued by the Department of Health which unilaterally alters the date for the implementation of the bargaining resolution on the provision of uniform to the nurses who work for the government from 1 October 2023 to any time between January 2024 and January 2025.

The issued circular by the Director-General of the Department of Health, to provincial heads of departments, dated 12 July 2023, further alters the number of uniforms that the nurses must get as a first batch from four uniforms as agreed in the resolution to three uniforms. It is also decentralizing the process of procurement of the uniform as opposed to centralizing it in line with the framework of the agreement. This is done without any consultation with either the bargaining council task team appointed to oversee the process or the endorsement or agreement by the Council.

This unilateral act of defying the Public Health Social Development Sectoral Bargaining Council (PHSDSBC) Resolution 1 of 2022 agreement on uniform provision for nurses is something that DENOSA warned about in its recent media statement after its NEC meeting when it became clear that the Department wanted to decentralize the tender process for the provision of this uniform to provincial departments, thus opening up the process to corruption, chaos and potential compromised quality and availability of the uniform.  

Unlike the police and the army, the nurses in South Africa have not been given uniform by the government. Instead, they were paid a uniform allowance in April each year to buy white attire that resembles a uniform. But the resolution of the PHSDSBC, as a bargaining avenue, reached an agreement between unions and the government in June 2020 that nurses in the public sector shall be provided with the uniform by the government, at least by 1 October 2023, as a replacement for Uniform Allowance.

By April of this year, the nurses were not paid the Uniform Allowance based on the existence of this agreement. There have been engagements between the unions and the government, in a form of a task team for the PHSDSBC, to prepare for the implementation of this agreement so that key things are considered to ensure the uniform becomes a genuine uniform, like the make, texture or fabric, colour, and number of clothing items per nurse in a financial year cycle.

The PHSDSBC Resolution states that the nurses will not be paid their Uniform Allowance in favour of the uniform provision by 1 October. DENOSA warned of this potential danger of delay as a result of wanting to decentralize the procurement process and further promised to call on its members to start wearing their own clothes if the uniform is not provided.

Now that the Department is confirming in its circular that it will not implement the resolution by the set date, DENOSA is motivating the calling of a special Council seating at the PHSDSBC where the Department must answer many questions like when it is going to pay the nurses the Uniform Allowance if it is not giving them the uniform by 1 October.

As warned recently, DENOSA hereby calls on the nurses to get ready to wear their own clothes come 1 October 2023 if neither the uniform is provided nor Uniform Allowance is paid for 2023.

Because the government does as it pleases with the resolution of the bargaining, the nurses will wear what pleases them too.


Issued by DENOSA.

For more information or interview request, contact:

Sibongiseni Delihlazo, DENOSA Spokesperson.

Mobile: 072 584 4175.

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