Bara workers end strike after acting CEO goes on ‘special leave’

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Gauteng Health said a strike by general workers at the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital in Soweto was over. Business Day reports that the end of the strike came after some of the workers’ demands were met.

“The hospital acting CEO, Dr Sifiso Maseko, is still on special leave and the department is going to appoint someone who will hold the fort‚” department spokesperson Lesemang Matuka. “No other staff members will be moved until the investigation is completed. An independent team of investigators will be roped in to investigate all allegations made‚ (and) the unions agreed to assist the process by handing over the evidence they have including possible sworn affidavits.”

He said normal service had been resumed at the hospital after “diversions were lifted yesterday”.

The report says six unions downed tools on Monday over what they said was “rife corruption which has crippled healthcare service at the hospital”. The striking workers protested outside the hospital.

“The action came after numerous tea breaks and lunch-hour pickets at the hospital by workers who have had to render compromised service at the facility to patients as a result of a captured procurement system‚” staff spokesperson Yandisa Zungula said.

The report quotes Zungula as saying that a memorandum of demands was submitted to the hospital’s acting CEO on 1 August, Zungula said, but no response had been received.

Among unions’ demands was that Maseko step down‚ corrupt officials be removed and vacant posts be filled. Workers have accused Maseko of irregular appointments and practising a “cash for jobs” system. They also accused him of intimidating senior managers and taking decisions without proper consultation.

Staff shortages and outstanding payments were also on their list of complaints. Giving an example of this‚ Zungula said in the report: “The facility’s labour ward staff is made up of 12 midwives in total, which works out to be three midwives per shift in a unit with statistics of +/-2,000 deliveries per month. This equals to unforgivable abuse of staff. Patients delivering without supervision is inevitable. And‚ unfortunately‚ patients die!”

Business Day report

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