Hillandale Hospital workers demand higher salary

Picketing Nehawu members at Hillandale. Photo by Katleho Morapela
A group of about 30 workers at Hillandale Hospital in Woodlands, Bloemfontein are on strike for higher wages.

The Nehawu members, including nurses, caregivers, physiotherapy assistants, cleaners and maintenance workers are demanding a R1 000 increase on their basic salary. They’ve been on strike since last week.

The union’s Daniel Motlatsi says workers receive no employment benefits, including those who have been employed for longer than ten years.

He says the hospital is short staffed and alleges that the hospital often admits an excessive number of patients. Caregivers say they are even forced to perform the duties of professional nurses.

Motlatsi says they have declined a R330 increase, which is currently being offered by their employee.

“We are picketing here because our demands are not met by our employer. The employer is not willing to negotiate with us in good faith. As employees we generate a lot of money for the hospital, so they need to share some of the income with us.”

Motlatsi says they previously approached the CCMA for wage negotiations, but were not pleased with the outcome which is why they decided to go on this legal strike.

Workers allege being dismissed by their employer whenever they raise labour law concerns. They also mentioned being treated unfairly, based on race.

Workers were also angry that the employer deducted R1 500 from their October salary, even though they only started striking later this month.

Meanwhile Hillandale Hospital manager, Tertius Venter, says the hospital was well within their rights to deduct the money, as no work means no pay.

Venter says negotiations with the striking workers have reached a deadlock. He says they have offered an increase which is more than double the inflation rate, however workers have rejected this.

He added that the hospital is still operating as they have a contingency plan in place.

Venter says that unfortunately when workers go on strike it’s a lose-lose situation for all who are involved.

“Unfortunately we’ve reached a deadlock. We are always open to talk to them but it’s their move now because unfortunately in the current climate we can’t go any further than we’ve gone already. We do have contingency plans because it’s a hospital, otherwise patients could have serious problems so we need to continue what we do, and everything is running smoothly.”

Katleho Morapela & Seithati Semenokane