Strikes: unions slam court action

2010-08-22 22:45

Johannesburg - Hospersa on Sunday said it was not affected by the Labour Court's ruling which prohibits essential services workers from participating in the public servants' strike.

The ruling also prevents protesters from intimidating and victimising non-striking workers.

"The court ruling will not affect Hospersa's present position regarding its dispute with the employer. Members not classified as essential services employees will carry on with the strike and members from the essential services cluster will embark on picket actions during their lunchtime," a statement said.

"The court ruling will have no effect on our members as they have never been involved with intimidation and victimisation of non-striking workers."

Last week, striking public servants shut down schools, blocked roads and barricaded hospitals around the country prompting Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi to accuse them of the "murder" of emergency patients.

He said non-striking hospital staff and ambulances were prevented from entering hospitals to get the sick and injured the care they needed.

By weekend, courts in various parts of the country had interdicted strikers from intimidating learners and hospital staff.


On Sunday, the Public Servants Association (PSA) said this week's action would be different in that worker's were asked to stay at home.

"The strike will continue but it will be different this week because strikers are to stay at home. There is nothing spectacular tomorrow (Monday), no protesting as such, but a mass action is planned for Thursday," said spokesperson Manie de Clercq.

The 200 000 member-strong PSA said it would be joined by other unions, including teachers belonging to the predominantly white Suid-Afrikaanse Onderwysersunie (SAOU).

The union, which includes teachers from former model C schools, said it would join the mass action on Monday because it rejected government's latest wage offer of a 7% salary adjustment.

Asanda Fongqo, spokesperson for the Democratic Nursing Organisation of SA (Denosa) said the solution to the ongoing strike was now entirely in government's hands.

"Workers on the ground are very angry and if government continues to do nothing, strike action will be intensified.

"This is not an issue of the court, but it requires government to come to the fore with a revised offer and do what is right," he said.

"None of us workers are enjoying the strike, we warned government before going on strike (about basic services disruption). This (strike) is our last resort."

"We sympathise with the public affected by the strike, but at the same time we also need to ensure that the people who work hard to serve them have their demands met."

He said court tactics would only make the situation worse.

'Knee-jerk' reaction

The Young Communist League of SA uttered similar sentiments on Sunday saying it was concerned with government's "knee-jerk" reaction by using the courts to halt the mass action.

"We view this as antagonistic affirmation that the state still serves and protects class interests of an elite few to the detriment of our people; some of which are enjoying the life of luxury within the public sector itself," said spokesperson Gugu Ndima.

"This is in no way a conducive solution for all parties involved. It does not assist in finding a long-term progressive solution which will benefit all stakeholders."

The party urged government to consider the implication of "pro-longing" the strike.

The Congress of SA Trade Unions said it "totally supported" the public service unions for their "justified demands" and urged government to return to the bargaining council with a new offer so that the dispute could be resolved quickly.