UPDATE: Nehawu strikes continue at Bfn hospitals

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Striking Nehawu workers. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

The strike by the National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) has severely affected the provision of health care services as well as access to some of the health facilities in the Free State.

The Free State Department of Health’s spokesperson, Mondli Mvambi, reported that Monday 6 March, the Pelonomi Hospital was arguably the most affected by the strike, resulting in the management of the hospital rolling up their sleeves to ensure that patients are being taken care of.

The situation is still tense at the Pelonomi Hospital and Mvambi said intimidation of staff continues.

It does, however, seem as if the Universitas Academic Hospital is the centre of focus for striking Nehawu workers.

“They initially blocked all entrances. Negotiations with management resulted in willing workers being allowed entry and patients also being allowed to walk in. Intimidation seems to be the strategy used to make the strike impactful. There’s a reasonable police presence,” Mvambi said.

He further said the situation is calm at the National District Hospital in Bloemfontein, as everyone is at their posts. “Attempts to disrupt were thwarted by security and other workers during the night shift. PSA Shop stewards were reportedly actively protecting the peace at the facility.”

Mvambi expressed that the Free State Department of Health has noted with concern these violent and disruptive actions by some Nehawu members at some health facilities across the province, which affected access to some facilities, mainly major hospitals of the province.

Mvambi further said the department respects the right to strike by members of the trade unions, as enshrined in the Constitution of the country, however, the right should be lawful and not violate the constitutional rights of others to work, to life, and access to health care.

“Any form of violence and intimidation directed at health workers, patients, and infrastructure is condemned in the strongest terms. The department is working closely with law enforcement agencies to monitor the situation to ensure rapid response and necessary urgent interventions to minimise the impact of the strike on the provision of essential health services,” he concluded.

Compiled by Justine Fortuin