Striking Eastern Cape nurses back at work
Mthatha - Nursing staff who abandoned their posts at the Nelson Mandela Academic Hospital in Mthatha returned to work on Saturday, the Eastern Cape health department said.
"The nurses consulted their unions and decided to accept the ultimatum and returned to work," said spokesperson Sizwe Kupelo.
Earlier, he said the nurses had until Sunday to report to work or face dismissal.
Twenty patients had been transferred to another hospital after nurses abandoned their posts on Friday night.
Night duty allowances
This was after they held two hospital managers hostage over night duty allowances.
The nurses, who were not armed, locked them in a boardroom at around 11:00.
Kupelo said a list of nurses qualifying for the allowance had been submitted, but had to be re-submitted when it was found to contain mistakes.
"It was detected that the list was fraudulent. There were names of people who were on leave at the time," he said. He said when nurses were told in a meeting that they would not be paid by Monday, they got angry and locked two managers in a boardroom.
Another group went to wards and ordered nurses out to attend a meeting.
"Nurses who were reporting for night duty were ordered out, leaving patients without nurses."
He said nurses abandoned their posts except those in the maternity ward and intensive care unit.
"Today [Saturday] as we speak, all nurses have reported for work including those who are on night shift, we suspect their intention is not to work the night shift," he said.
He said labour union National Education, Health and Allied Union was holding a meeting with the nurses on Saturday, to warn them about the danger of their "wildcat" strike.
Kupelo said departmental officials from Bisho had been sent to the hospital in a bid to manage the problem.
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