WATCH | 'We are losing colleagues': Tygerberg nurses protest for better working conditions

  • Four health workers at Tygerberg Hospital have died of Covid-19. 
  • Nurses protested outside the facility on Friday, asking for it to be closed and disinfected before work resumes.
  • Unions are currently in talks with management to set up a risk-assessment protocol for workers.

Staff protested outside Tygerberg Hospital in Cape Town on Friday morning, asking for it to be closed and disinfected.

Since April, four staff members have died at the Western Cape's largest hospital after contracting Covid-19.

Nurses, some still in their scrubs, stood outside the facility with placards to protest their working conditions.

They said management was not supporting them after staff complained about personal protective equipment (PPE). 

Thina Bombi, who has been a nurse for 13 years, told News24 she feared for her life.

"We don't have proper PPE and we are being exposed to the virus. We are fearing for our lives because we can be like our colleagues that have passed away," she said.  

Sister Hendroleen Maartins, who has worked at the hospital for 24 years, said management was not supporting staff.

"I want management to support us and speak the truth about what is happening at the hospital," she added.

"When one of us is affected, things just go on as normal."

Staff wants the hospital to be closed and disinfected before returning to work.

"When someone is affected at Shoprite, the whole of Shoprite is closed and cleaned. Why can't they do that at the hospital as well?" Maartins asked. 

Nursing unions are working closely with staff, management and the Department of Labour to find a way forward.

The South African Federation of Trade Unions' secretary in the Western Cape, Andre Adams, wants management to put a risk assessment in place for all workers.

"Looking at the high number of infected staff, it is clear that there are problems with the health and safety in the workplace," he said. 

The unions have asked management to supply workers with PPE as well as creating risk-assessment and social-distancing protocols in the hospital. 

"They claim they have all of these measures in place, but in reality it is not working. Otherwise, why would the number of infected workers be so high," Adams said.

The Department of Labour will be assisting the unions to see whether the hospital is complying with Covid-19 regulations.

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