Police fire rubber bullets at strikers

Durban – Police fired rubber bullets at striking healthcare workers at the staff gate of Addington Hospital on Monday morning, hitting several.

"We were at the gate when they shot us. We did not provoke anyone and we were peaceful," said protester Buhle Ntsele, who was bleeding profusely after being shot in the thigh.

Another protester, Craig Handele, who was also shot, said police accused the protesters of defying a court order by the Labour Court prohibiting essential services workers from participating in the public servants' strike and from intimidating and victimising non-striking workers.

The KwaZulu-Natal government has also obtained an interdict preventing striking workers from barricading public institutions.

Nurses on duty

There were nurses on duty in the casualty unit on Monday and other staff were also on at work at Addington hospital on Monday, amid a huge police presence.

"People who are working have betrayed us. We need to deal with them," said Ntsele.

While striking workers were unhappy about being betrayed by their colleagues, patients were over the moon that they were finally getting help.

"Today I managed to get my cardiac medication. I am very happy. The interdict has helped us," said patient Bhim Singh.

Police presence

He said the police presence had prevented striking workers from blockading the hospital.

At 07:00 on Monday, five striking workers wearing National Education, Health, and Allied Workers' Union (Nehawu) t-shirts prevented non-striking workers and patients from entering the King Edward Hospital in Durban.

They were only letting in people collecting antiretroviral drugs.

A striking woman said she was not aware of the court order.

Waiting for union leaders

"We are still doing what we were doing last week," she said.

Nurses camping outside the hospital said they were waiting for union leaders to tell them whether to work.

Cosatu and the Independent Labour Caucus announced a nationwide strike about a week ago after rejecting the government's offer of a seven percent salary increase and a R700 a month housing allowance.

They are demanding an 8.6% increase and R1 000 housing allowance.

- Were you there? Anything to share?
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