Gauteng Health has condemned the ongoing acts of vandalism and disruption of services at Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital during an unprotected strike.
News24 reports that protesters included nurses and porters from various organisations including members from National Education and Health And Workers’ Union (Nehawu). It was reported by Democratic Alliance (DA) Member of the Provincial Legislature Jack Bloom that employees trashed the hospital facilities and police had to fire rubber bullets to disperse the protesters. “I visited the hospital on Thursday last week and found mounds of trash, including medical waste, scattered in various places. A cold drink dispensing machine was also tossed on its side,” Bloom said.
Department spokesperson Lesemang Mtuka said that the department had approached the court for an interdict. “The department has obtained and served the striking workers with a court interdict and it is expected of them to respect and abide the rule of law,” Mtuka said. “The facility provides essential services to the vulnerable section of our community and we cannot allow the situation to continue in this manner.”
Bloom said that “rampaging workers” had gone through the wards, intimidating staff and disrupting activities. He noted that most of the protesters were members of Nehawu and the Economic Freedom Fighters.
Health MEC Dr Gwendoline Ramokgopa said that she was aware of the situation at the hospital but could not confirm who was responsible for the vandalism. “I am waiting on a detailed report to determine who is responsible for the vandalism. I am aware that there are small groups who have been sporadically picketing at the hospital,” Ramokgopa said.
According to the report, Nehawu Gauteng deputy secretary Gracia Rikhotso slammed claims that the union’s members had been involved. “It is well known that in a strike, there will always be people who use the environment to engage in illegal activity,” Rikhotso said. “We are a well-established union and we have strict picket rules. I can assure you that none of my members were involved in the vandalism.”
The report says employees are protesting non-payment of overtime and performance bonuses and claim that management is not communicating with them.
Rikhotso said that the strike was a last resort.News24 report