Patients stranded in Limpopo as workers vow to continue strike

2017-03-24 18:12
(File, Cosatu)

(File, Cosatu)

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Polokwane - The Limpopo department of health on Friday said it will be approaching the Labour Court for an order to have its striking officials report for duty.

"We will be approaching the Labour Court. The strike is illegal and we want a ruling that will compel workers to return to work," said provincial health spokesperson Thabiso Teffo.      

He said a number of hospitals and clinics are not fully operational due to the ongoing strike by union members in the province.

Officials at more than five health centres, including two hospitals, downed tools this week over a dispute about performance bonuses.

Teffo said the department was concerned about the disruption of services at their facilities.

"We cannot say we are operating at 100%, we are at 80%, and we are engaging the unions on how best we can pay their demands within the prescripts of the law," said Teffo.

He said the situation had improved slightly on Friday as patients were able to get in and out of the Polokwane Provincial Hospital.

On Thursday the department secured an interdict to stop protesting workers from blocking the entrance to the hospital.

Premier blamed for strike

Patients were left stranded and hopeless after they were turned away from local facilities with some having no option but to wait the protest out.

Others travelled more than 40km to Polokwane.

"I arrived at our clinic, and they told me that there are no files, I must go to a neighbouring clinic or hospital. I came here, it's the same story," said Refilwe Madiba.

Madiba and others hope workers and government will resolve the protest before the situation worsens.
But Cosatu said its members will not return to work until their demands are met.

Cosatu provincial secretary Gerald Thwala blamed Premier Stan Mathabatha's failure to swiftly address workers' concern for the strike.
"We are trying our best to secure an appointment with the premier. If they don't respond we will continue with the struggle until our demands are met," said Thwala.
"We are not going back to work until our demands are met. We are serious about this issue because most of our concerns have been long pending."
He said there is no justification for why workers' benefits have not been paid out.

Read more on:    cosatu  |  polokwane  |  strikes

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