The National Education, Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu) has given the president seven days to heed worker’s calls to deal with the appallingly unsafe working conditions in hospitals, and to pay workers what is due to them or face a shutdown like no other.
Scores of the union’s members and affiliate parties gathered at the Union Buildings in Pretoria earlier today to submit their memorandum of demands to the office of the Presidency.
Nehawu general secretary Zola Saphetha said their members were stuck between a rock and a hard place, where when they complained they were dismissed, and when they complied they died.
Saphetha said they were dismayed that after having put their weight behind President Cyril Ramaphosa for the candidacy of leading the country he was the one now ignoring the worker’s pleas.
He said it was for this reason the party would be handing their memorandum of demands over to no one else but the director-general in the office of the Presidency and it would be up to him whether to heed their calls or not.
The union’s demands include workplaces that should ensure the full compliance with the Occupational Health and Safety Act and ensuring that risk assessments and infection control and prevention measures were put in place.
They also want the immediate establishment of health committees in all workplaces.
They want the Department of Health to issue a circular prohibiting institutional managers from preventing workers from going into quarantine if they believed they had been exposed, whether at home or at the workplace.
He added that workers had to be screened daily, with the health department to roll out a national testing programme of non-communicable diseases.
Saphetha said the reason for this was due to information that many of the frontline workers actually lived with underlying diseases without being aware of them.
They’ve also demanded a risk allowance for frontline workers be implemented and for the government to abandon the current decentralised and fragmented approach in the procurement of personal protective equipment.