Hereos of the strike

2010-09-08 12:30

Dear Editor,

How do you say "Thank you"?

The past three weeks has seen so much negativity surrounding the strike, that the few nurses and teachers brave enough to come to work - even when threatened, attacked and throttled - have been nicely forgotten. They are the true angels in this world.

To the wonderful nurses I have had the pleasure of working side by side with the past three weeks: thank you for restoring my faith in humans. Maybe not all humans have lost their humanity after all.

To the wonderful doctors who assisted in the theatre when there were no nurses available to ensure the poorest of the poor stood a fighting chance, I applaud you.

To the patients who suffered through it all, remember when the crunch comes and let your anger be known with the wonderful little X on your ballot.

To the hospital manager who trusted us enough to allow us to come night after night and help out, thank you for an experience I will always treasure.

I have assisted with a very complicated birth and spent over an hour making sure a little boy has oxygen and he lived.
I have held a 14-year-old’s hand while she has given birth.
I have mourned the death of a little one born too early.
I have reunited a mother and baby.
I have walked to the back of the beyond and back with labs urgently needed
I have cleaned up, made beds, held little babies, cleaned little babies, held hands, comforted, hugged, and basically been part of a wonderful team of people, doctors, nurses and patients.

The last night of the strike was the night I saw the true toll the strike had taken on the staff. How can they trust the strikers when they return? The same ones who threatened to kill me will now want to work beside me as if nothing is wrong. 

I wish them well and will miss them.

We have been told to make sure we come and visit them again, so until we meet again, I applaud you and trust the rest of South Africa do to.

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  • Juan - 2010-09-08 12:36

    The real hero is the premier of the western cape for implimenting a "no work no pay" policy. This resulted in very few nurses and teachers striking as the now had something to lose, unlike their lazy counterparts in other provinces who went on a violent paid vacation.

  • onemantribe - 2010-09-08 12:40

    Tap-tap. Tap-tap. Tippety-tappety-tap. That's the sound of my foot waiting for Juan to come pour his pain and fear and anger onto this page. Tap-tap.

  • Cynful - 2010-09-08 12:40

    I salute you and all those that carried on giving themselves while the rest were looking for an excuse not to work!
    These are the people that deserve medals and a huge bonus with time off, full pay of course!
    The rest, fire them! They are barbaric and a shame to humanity. Charge the medical professional with murder and hold the unions accountable for damages!
    Once again, THANK you to those who put their own lives in danger for others!

  • Flee - 2010-09-08 12:42

    I totally Agree ... the Ladies and gents... True heroes of the strike should be heralded and awarded for their passion and bravery. To all those who ignored the unions and put their own lives and reputations on the line... Well done.. you are true champions.. you do deserve the increase and more... Take it off the salaries of the incompetent violent heartless animals who think they "Deserve it" ... Also to all the people and army personnel who so thanklessly gave of their time, resources and experience... Thank you.. People like you, Joanne, and all the other volunteers are what the rest of SA should strive to be like.

  • Really? - 2010-09-08 12:54

    Nice, now these people are REAL nurses, they do it because its their calling, and not just to have job !! Viva !

  • Faahim@Author - 2010-09-08 12:58

    A well deserved THANK YOU!!! All of them should be given senior management positions and awarded bonuses for their braveness. As for the rest, They should all be fired or have their own families intimidated.

  • @onemantribe - 2010-09-08 12:58

    Whats the matter? Cant face the truth?

  • DivD - 2010-09-08 12:59

    I fully agree. Use the money saved by the 'no work no pay' to give them a preformance bonus. Also on has to also thank the medic's from the millitery

  • Johan - 2010-09-08 13:02

    Dear Joanne W,
    What a good story. It proves that there is always hope, there will always be those that will look beyond everyday experiences, bad news, politics etc. and most importantly speak or say the right things about the situation. Well done!

  • anna - 2010-09-08 13:08

    This is the SA that I believe in and give my best to

  • GVS - 2010-09-08 13:26

    What a pity that all the good deads and comments will go unnoticed and ignored. It is up to the majority now to see what they have allowed to be born by voting for the anc. To anyone and everyone that may read this, open your eyes and see what is happening to this country as a result of poor judgement and empty promises.

  • Juan - 2010-09-08 13:28

    Deditcated people like these should become nurses. Why does government employ people taken out of the bush to become nurses??

  • @ Joanne W - 2010-09-08 13:28

    An economist estimated that the strike cost SA billions in FDI, which would have potentially created in excess of 1m jobs.
    Well done to Helen Zille - the real champion of the poor, the mother Theresa of SA.

  • Piet Strydom - 2010-09-08 13:32

    I applaud you.

  • @onemantribe - 2010-09-08 13:42

    Too late keep tapping, nervous or what?

  • DeonL - 2010-09-08 13:45

    Zille for President! These losses in Salary will not be made up in 2 years! Stupid Strikers and Unions!

  • Mike - 2010-09-08 13:51


  • Rose - 2010-09-08 13:51

    I went overseas to work for a year and am still here three years down the line. Well done striking health staff, you drive people away out of fear and keep them away. This isn't to mention what your actions bear for the poor patients. There is more to medicine than money and housing loans.

  • Jeni - 2010-09-08 14:06

    Joanne,you are an angel. Thank you for helping. With regards to the strikers, government should give them what they want, wait 2 months and start laying off people because they cant afford to keep them all on. So instead of everybody having a job, only a select proportion will have a job. Go figure...dont know how that will help un-employment, but the unions dont think further than their noses..we have just come out of a recession...heck!

  • Eles - 2010-09-08 14:07

    I absolutely agree, well done to all those nurses and teachers who went to work regardless and all those volunteers. Give the actually dedicated people an extra increase - these are the people who truly work hard and care and ultimately make a difference. It is a crying disgrace that none of these strikers guilty of intimidation and violence were arrested - shameful behaviour. If I today went and prevented sick people from entering a hospital and was a general unruly nuisance - would the police not be called and I would be arrested? What makes the strikers so special to get away with it? Personally the fact that they don't understand the economics of this strike does concern me. This country cannot be held to ransom on an annual basis from all these sectors, whilst our incompetent ministers overspend that doesn't mean we have money to burn. Put a freeze on top execs salaries and their benefits too.

  • Proud South African - 2010-09-08 14:09

    Joan, let me dry my eyes, are you looking for a noddy badge, lovey. As is always said you reap what you sow. They all suffer the consequence of their actions "X". I am sorry, when my daughters were having their beautiful children, the nursing staff were rude, abusive, lazy pigs, i feel for the innocent and would love to have helped them, but why should i do the work when the lazy sods get paid anyway.....

  • Logan - 2010-09-08 14:19

    where's polo'moron' and all the rest of the ANC gang now? why are they not commenting, to busy hangin their heads in shame??? or are their heads to firmly shoved up Julius and Zuma's ars's to notice anything anymore.

  • Michelle - 2010-09-08 14:20

    It's just a pity that stories like these don't have enough publicity! Are not told to the masses. But I'll do my best to pass it on. Well done!

  • Poloyatonki - 2010-09-08 14:21

    My heroes are my union bosses, today I am proud to say that NO employer will exploit me.

  • Realist - 2010-09-08 14:30

    The reality is that nowhere else in the world would teachers have threatened learners and burned and torn up exam papers. This is typical of what we can come to expect of strilers in this country. Destructive and lawless.

  • Mirela - 2010-09-08 14:32

    I chose to help out at the OR Thambo Hospital in Boksburg. The things i saw there have scarred me for life. The smell of dried blood all over the walls made me feel sick, the sight of a man screaming in pain while dying slowly made me hurt. I was disgusted by the dirt on the floors and on the side tables of the patients who were suffering. I felt depressed, scared and most of all angry. My anger had begun when i saw that the nurses sit around and take their time to do anything. There was vomit in one of the sinks which had been there for 2 weeks, surely if there were other helpers, they could have cleaned that?!!! There were cigarrette buds on the floors, in the baths, in the toilets, the smell of the rooms made me want to vomit, the dried blood all over curtains looked as if it had been scattered all over.
    No windows were open to bring in fresh air, no fresh cold water was given to them, the amount of food the patients got could be compared to a fist size.

    Suddenly my anger turned into hate. I put a pair of gloves on, tied my hair back, placed a mask over my mouth and got the broom,mop,cloths and anything else i could use to start getting my ward clean.

    I started at the room right at the end and worked my way to the top. I cleaned every single floor, mopped every corner, opened all windows, scrubbed the basins, cleaned every water bottle and put in fresh cold water which the patients hadn't had in days. I dished up their plates which to them some like a feast for that day. I laughed with the elderly patients, changed a woman who had wet her bed, put new linen on every single bed, massaged an old granny. It felt so amazing to help out so much.

    All the patients had smiles and thanked me for everything i had done, the elderly lady i massaged showed me her chest, it was covered with water blisters,bruises and blood. She said one of the volunteers had put a hot plate on her chest and burnt her.

    I was devastated and suddenly my anger lost control. I am furious with how are hospitals look like. I feel depressed that majority of those people in there were black and that people think because they black it doesn't really bother them what hospitals they are in...! It has upset me so much to a point that i cannot stop thinking about it. Those patients pink,black,coloured,white whatever, deserve the best treatment no matter what colour we are. I am furious at the fact that nurses think its ok to ignore a patient shouting just because they think they need mental help. Maybe if we show love to those patients they will slowly become better and happiness can always help.

    Im so heartbroken and feel so sad that we let our people suffer. If your'e a nurse who went on strike, don't you dare call yourself a nurse. Your'e pathetic and deserve to be the sick, suffering patient left to die in the beds.

    Im truly upset and i wish that our president would do something about this.

  • onemantribe - 2010-09-08 14:33

    Hah - beaten by 3 minutes and 7 seconds.

  • S Cholwich - 2010-09-08 14:33

    You have me waiting for Juan as well now .....

  • James - 2010-09-08 14:37

    Have viewed the gallery of pics from the latest taxi crash south of Johannesburg. Can anybody tell me why there are so many white faces caring for the victims? Surely not a strike!!! It is striking that the BEE crowd are not bellowing for replacement of the hard working and well trained whites in emergency services.

  • Johan - 2010-09-08 14:43

    And to the medical personnel that went on the strike I want to say "SHAME ON YOU". Not that you were on strike, but the fact that many patients admitted in TV interviews that they would prefer the volunteers and army people to look after them, because they now got BETTER service! To the all volunteers/army, I SALUTE YOU! To the nurses, I hope you will now be a bit more dedicated because you get a bit more money for your "services" ......

  • Barbi - 2010-09-08 14:45

    I take my hat off to you, Joanne, and all others like you. YOU are what makes this country great. You epitomise what the Hypocratic oath is about.

  • striker - 2010-09-08 14:49

    I think you guys earn enough and you dont understand the frustration of the strikers. do u really understand if someone is saying " i dont care". I think you dont.

  • Juan @ striker - 2010-09-08 14:59

    Be happy you even have a job!! If you are not happy with your salary, simply quit and get a job somewhere else! LAZY!!

  • Tanz - 2010-09-08 15:01

    @ Author - What a fantastic letter! I agree with you, and THANK YOU for being a part of that dedicated team that buckled down to help those in need. You are all heroes and no amount of thanks will be enough to truly convey how much you have helped. I feel that the behaviour exibited by the striking teachers and nurses is deplorable. And it really gives the rest of their colleagues a bad name. To think that the people burning other people's cars and petrol bombing their colleagues homes might be the same individuals educating my kid or helping my elders at a hospital...its too scary for words...

  • Stryder@striker - 2010-09-08 15:21

    I earn enoguh, and when I want more I improve my value to the company or I find another job. I don't stop doing my job and demand more money. If I did that there are lots of umemployed people or people who earn less who woud love my job. I just wish everyone had gone on strike when that striker had a stroke outside the one hospital.

  • @striker - 2010-09-08 15:28

    No - YOU don't understand! A huge number of employed people were lucky enough to KEEP their jobs over the last year and did not complain that they did not get increases - they were just grateful to have jobs! And believe me - the sick and the dying CLEARLY understood YOUR message of " I DON'T CARE!!"

  • malcomx - 2010-09-08 16:00

    Under the ANC rule, people of different races are able to exercise their rights. The real heroes are our leaders in the ANC and our union brothers.@Juan. Your fore-fathers came to this bushes, looted and left their weak stranded, thats the only reason you are still here!

  • Karen @Joanne - 2010-09-08 16:01

    You're wrong, the nurses and teachers who soldiered on during the strike have not been forgotten at all. Their dedication was reported on and the threats, intimidation and in some cases actual attacks were also reported and we the public took note. We may not know the individuals who are the dedicated few deserving of those jobs, but we do know that there were some and you cannot imagine how much those few are appreciated and respected. It was with horror, disgust and dismay that we read of the nurse who was stabbed and another whose house was set alight. Unfortunately the dedicated soldiers cannot be named or honoured because by identifying them their lives may be put in even more danger. They had to not only man the fort, but they had to do so in secret. We would be dishonouring them by identifying them, but they know who they are and rest assured that we, the public, are grateful for them.

  • @malcomx - 2010-09-08 16:17

    What were your forefathers doing with all the stuff that was looted? Absoultely nothing. What a surprise you had it all and did nothing with it.

  • Juan @ malcomx - 2010-09-08 16:36

    Your little knowledge of history totally reflects your lack of intellect. You fit the stereotype perfectly and you behave as expected.

  • Elizabeth @Karen - 2010-09-08 16:39

    What's your problem? Read the letter again. She KNOWS. She was there.

  • Liz - 2010-09-08 16:39

    We lost our rights as teachers. We carried on working and teaching until we were told to leave by a committee of 'comrades'. Basically told we had 'no rights' we are 'out of order" and told that they would burn down our school and hostel. Now we are battling, matrics are unhappy. Add 'stike' is a swear word to my vocabulary.

  • Uhuru - 2010-09-08 19:18

    The real heroes are those who didn't join the rabble and strike.

  • Wanda - 2010-09-08 20:42

    A big thank you to all Joanne and all those who put patients before money. You are true heros.
    Poliodonkey - your kind exploit the poor. I don't believe you even understand what the word compassion means.

  • JOANNE W - 2010-09-09 08:05

    To everyone, this is not about politics or such as no one from any of the political parties bothered to do anything but lip service, this is a thank you letter to all the nurses who as Karen rightly said can not be named for fear of their lives. this is what I as a non political, tax paying individual gained from the whole 3 week experience, my way of acknowledging the people who to me made a difference.

  • sulo - 2010-09-09 08:35

    a great appluase to all staff members at makhiwane hospital ,nurses, doctors & volunteers u've done a great work , i was so frastrated this past weekend when my baby couldnt breath bt bcoz of the dedicated servants she's okay now watching people dying and infants zi helpless was even more truatising .

  • MikeL - 2010-09-09 09:58

    If there was management who understood their jobs and knew just what they were doing they would use the experience of the strike to imrpove the entire situation. The skeleton staff managed as best they could and perhaps the entire staff in fact is not needed anyway. Sort out what is needed and who can do that and fire the rest. If one wants to see overweight people have a look at the nurses and metro police - I am sure that the excess weight is not a result of hard work. Like the fattened goose it comes from overeating and lack of exercise both of which are not related to hard work or self control. Then when you have removed all those lazy fat non-workers divide up the money

  • GeorGe2 - 2010-09-09 11:00

    Joanne - Pray, tell - what is a hereo - some type of chocolate??

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