‘Privatise strike’

2010-08-19 00:00

THE Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) has threatened that private hospitals and private schools will be affected by the public sector strike in the city today.

Addressing striking government workers at an impromptu rally at Freedom Square, the provincial secretary of the National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu), Zola Sapeta, said a strike committee has been established to ensure that, among other things, private hospitals and schools are also affected by the strike.

Sapeta said this is meant to ensure that the disruption affects government ministers’ and top officials’ children, who are in private schools.

The threat to close private hospitals is thought to be motivated by the fact that during the last public sector strike in 2007 patients were referred to private hospitals at huge cost to the government.

Sapeta said Nehawu members in private hospitals and schools will be part of the strike committee “to ensure that the strike leads to a total shutdown”.

He apologised to the public, saying it is the government’s responsibility to bring services to the people, not the workers’.

“We appeal to the public to support us in our struggle for a living wage and for our rights.”

Sapeta said that from today, strikers will ensure that no hospital, government mortuary or ambulance is operational.

“Our members in the VIP unit [bodyguards to high ranking government officials] are also being negotiated with to enter the strike because they are also workers.”

Although the unions have declared the strike will be free of threats and intimidation, Sapeta said striking workers are expected to be at their workplaces, “closing them down”.

“We want no hospital to be operational. We are tired of workers who want to be forced to go on strike. Tomorrow we will be addressing you at your workplaces.”

South African Democratic Teachers’ Union (Sadtu) leader Pat Mkhize said there are no divisions between teachers and pupils over the strike. This follows an incident in Inanda on Tuesday when pupils at Ziphembeleni High School attacked Sadtu members who came to the school to close it.

Mkhize said the culprits have been exposed and arrested and are not pupils from the school.

Sapeta said that Cosatu and the Congress of SA African Students will hold a joint press conference in Durban today to emphasise that they both support the strike.

Meanwhile, business organisations called for speedy resolution to the strike, pointing out that intimidation of non-strikers and school pupils in particular “will impact negatively on global perceptions of the business environment”.

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