Nehawu protest working conditions for nurses and frontline staff in KZN. Photo: Nehawu

KZN nurses down tools and join Nehawu protest over working conditions

Nehawu are visiting COVID-19 hotspots around the country in a bid to highlight the perils facing healthcare workers on the frontline.


Nehawu protest working conditions for nurses and frontline staff in KZN. Photo: Nehawu

The National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) is continuing its visits to COVID-19 hotspots around the country, with healthcare facilities in KwaZulu-Natal on the agenda on Thursday 2 July.

The visits form part of the union’s bid to highlight the spread of the virus among healthcare workers. 

Nehawu lament leadership issues in the Department of Health  

Nehawu general secretary Zola Saphetha said that the Department of Health is not taking compassionate care of its frontline workers, with over 3 500 healthcare workers having contracted COVID-19 and 34 having died from it nationwide. 

“The aim of the visits is to highlight the escalation of the number of workers carelessly exposed to the virus, which is a serious cause for concern and, as Nehawu, we believe that failure to protect workers is tantamount to murder,” he said. 

Speaking to eNCA, Nehawu president Mzwandile Makwayiba said that there are core leadership issues at the heart of the Health Department. 

“At the centre of the problem is the leadership in the Department of Health. The issues are not necessarily new and they are exactly the same from province to province. If a healthcare worker in casualty tests positive, we don’t see the measures that we are screening other colleagues to ensure that we manage the spread of coronavirus. 

“It is the attitude of the management.” 

Inkosi Albert Luthuli Hospital nurses down tools

Nurses at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli Hospital downed tools on Wednesday and joined Nehawu in protesting a shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) in the facility, saying that they are working unmanageable hours, in dire conditions.

Makwayiba cited the case of one nurse in KZN who had reportedly tested positive and then been accused of working a second job instead of receiving care and having her colleagues screened. 

“When one nurse tested positive, instead of receiving compassionate management, she was accused of moonlighting,” he said. 

“What does moonlighting have to do with a worker that is affected by coronavirus? Moonlighting has been happening before coronavirus.” 

Union to visit host of Gauteng hospitals on Friday 

The union will visit St Augustine’s Hospital in Durban on Wednesday, along with several other facilities. St Augustine’s Hospital was shut down in April after more than 60 people tested positive for the virus, with the majority of them being staff members.

On Friday they will head to Gauteng where they will visit Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital in Soweto, South African Revenue Service (Sars) offices in Alberton and Soweto, as well as Leratong Hospital, Helen Joseph Hospital, Dr George Mukhari Academic Hospital and the Tshwane University of Technology.