Union complaint about the handling of possibly contaminated linen

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Six bags of soiled and possibly coronavirus-contaminated linen at Durban’s Addington Hospital became the subject of concern when staff were allegedly instructed to handle the material without protective gear. According to a Sunday Tribune report the linen was meant to be transported to the hospital’s laundromat. But when the manager in question was confronted by a shop steward, who is a member of the Public Servants Association of SA (PSA), he changed his tune. Staff members were then told to await instruction from head office on how to handle the condemned linen.

The report says Addington Hospital is one of the designated treatment centres in Kwazulu-Natal (KZN) along with Grey’s, Ngwelezana and Manguzi hospitals. So far, Addington was the only local hospital that had admitted a COVID-19-infected patient.

The shop steward responded by demanding that the hospital not place its members at risk and questioned why the KZN Health Department’s standard protocols followed. “Until such time we are placed with the information, we will instruct our members to stay clear from those bags containing contaminated linen,” the shop steward said.

Mlungisi Ndlovu, PSA provincial manager, said the “laid-back approach” from the provincial government in its efforts to contain the spread of the deadly virus was worrying.

In a letter to Premier Sihle Zikalala, Ndlovu requested provincial leadership make the effort to protect union members, their families and society.

Full Sunday Tribune report (subscription needed)

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