Health strike ‘may become expensive’

2011-09-27 14:26

A strike by health laboratory workers may force state hospitals to outsource services at a cost, a health workers’ union said today.

“Most state hospitals across the country have delayed operations and [have] contingency plans to outsource to private companies,” said the National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu).

“We pointed out that if they have enough money [to outsource pathology and diagnostic tests], it’s difficult to believe they don’t have enough money for our demands.”

About 1 500 workers across the country went on strike from yesterday over wages.

A notice of intention to strike was served on the National Health Laboratory Service (NHLS) on Thursday after ongoing negotiations since April.

Nehawu wanted a 9.5% increase and R2 300 monthly medical aid benefit, backdated to May 1.

The NHLS, an independent agent contracted to the health department, had offered a 6.5% increase and R2 100 for medical aid.

Nehawu spokesperson Sizwe Pamla said the health department should be encouraging workers to stay in the public sector rather than scaring them away with low salaries.

“If workers are constantly provoked, we will find it difficult to convince them not to leave for more profitable private companies.”

The union claims to represent about a quarter of NHLS staff.

Two other representative unions, the Public Servants Association of SA and the Health and Other Service Personnel Trade Union of SA, had apparently agreed to a set increase.

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