Hospital’s staff on strike because they think 7% salary hike is ‘unfair’

2015-04-11 00:00

IN what staff described as their first strike in 27 years, workers at Midlands Medical Centre in Pietermaritzburg took to the streets outside the hospital yesterday.

The National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) staff are demanding better wages.

Dressed in red T-shirts, the group of about 30 protestors were up in arms over what they describe as an “unfair” salary increase.

The staff are demanding a 10% wage increase, with the hospital’s offer ranging from 6,9% to eight percent, which was granted at the beginning of this month.

MMC expressed disappointment following the staff’s decision to down tools.

Hospital manager Douglas Ross said the wage increase offered to his staff is well in line with the private healthcare sector, and is generous in comparison with the prevailing and projected inflation rates.

Ross said a defensive lockout would be implemented to ensure good order during the strike action.

“MMC is of the respectful view that strike action is not an effective way to settle this impasse. Negotiation and dialogue serve as ideal tools from which parties may reach sustainable terms of settlement”.

Ross said adequate contingency measures have been implemented to minimise the impact of the strike on the hospital and confirmed it was business as usual yesterday.

A Nehawu official who led the strike, Thulani Gabela, said the ­protest would continue until their demands were met. Gabela added that MMC management were willing to negotiate with union officials, but the protest would continue until negotiations were concluded.

“We will not picket over the weekend, but we will return on Monday. Nehawu staff are urged to stay at home this weekend and until our demands are met,” Gabela said.

Essential staff who are members of the union, such as those responsible for direct patient care, have not been called to strike. According to Gabela, these workers would be called to protest during their time off.

• amil.umraw@witness.co.za

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