‘Unpaid’ guards lock gates to TB hospital

2017-02-10 09:48
Doris Goodwin TB hospital CEO Bonginkosi Ndlovu (right) having a discussion with the police after patients, public and staff were locked inside and outside at the hospital in Edendale on Thursday.

Doris Goodwin TB hospital CEO Bonginkosi Ndlovu (right) having a discussion with the police after patients, public and staff were locked inside and outside at the hospital in Edendale on Thursday. (Ian Carbutt)

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Furious security guards at the Doris Goodwin TB hospital in Edendale on Thursday padlocked the gates of the grounds, refusing to let anyone in or out.

Patients, hospital staff and the public were unable to leave or enter the premises as employees of Ngiphile Security Services refused to open the gates for just over an hour. Police and the chief executive officer of the hospital, Bonginkosi Ndlovu, had to intervene to resolve the matter, which caused chaos there at 8 am.

The hospital has about 100 beds and is a specialised multi-drug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) centre.

When The Witness arrived, a crowd was standing outside the gate while those staff who had not yet entered the premises were forced to park outside. The security guards, who are represented by the South African Transport and Allied Workers’ Union (Satawu), said their salaries were being withheld, they had not been given uniforms since 2014 and were not being allowed to take leave.

One of the fuming security guards said they had locked the gate to get their employer’s attention. “The company has been short paying us since 2014. Sometimes they take half our salary without any reason. If you complain to the Department of Labour, the company serves you with a hearing or even axes you,” he said.

The security guards were reluctant to open the gate as more people started to arrive outside, some to watch what was happening.

Ndlovu said the people who were standing outside were not hospital staff but onlookers. “We had only about three staff members who were outside. There were no operational disruptions at all as this did not take long. There were also no threats made to anyone,” he said.

As the gate was finally opened, the police and Ndlovu called security guards and their representative to discuss their issues at a meeting inside, not at the gate. The meeting was between Satawu provincial chairperson Chief Dlamini, some security guards and Ndlovu.

The management of the company was nowhere to be seen.

Dlamini said if nothing materialises, they will proceed to the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration and will stage pickets and protest against the company.

When contacted by The Witness, Ngiphile operations manager Sifiso Mbatha said they cannot comment on the matter yet.

“The union has not contacted us in terms of any outlying issues there might be,” he said.

Pietermaritzburg South cluster police spokesperson Sergeant Mthokozisi Ngobese said the matter was resolved amicably and there were no arrests.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg

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