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Limpopo health workers suspend strike for two weeks

The implementation of two contentious circulars over which health workers in Limpopo had threatened to down tools from this week have been put on hold, for two weeks. A Pretoria News report notes that this after Health MEC Phophi Ramathuba met with labour unions to discuss the protest over circulars 43 of 2020 and 4 of 2021, which dealt with shifts and overtime.

In the meeting, Ramathuba said: “Organised labour is allowed a week to make inputs on the circulars, within the law, for consideration by management.” It would consider the issues on 15 and 16 March she added.

She said engagements would take place with management and labour on 17 and 18 March to clarify and consolidate the matters at hand.

Ramathuba added: “The planned strike by the labour unions is suspended. Neither of the parties must talk to the media or communicate any other message than this statement through social media until the two-week process is finalised.”

The implementation of the circulars will resume after the engagements on 22 March.

 

Hospersa, a union with more than 60,000 members in both the public and private health sector, had criticised the Limpopo Health Department for threatening to close down vaccination stations in the province if Hospersa and six other unions proceed with their planned strike action next week.

Polity reports that the seven unions are in dispute with Limpopo Health over working hours after the provincial health department issued circulars with changes in shift rosters. The unions are now planning to go on a protected strike from 8 March 2021 to force the employer to withdraw the circulars and consult with them before making changes to employees working conditions.

Hospersa has also condemned Limpopo Health for using COVID-19 vaccines as a bargaining chip to threaten members from exercising their rights to strike.

“Hospersa condemns the utterances by the Limpopo Health Department that it will close vaccine stations for health workers if the planned strike action goes ahead”, said Hospersa public relations officer Kevin Halama.

“It is immoral that the Limpopo DoH has now resorted to using the much-needed life-saving vaccines as a bargaining chip to try an end the impasse. Such threats border on human rights violations and should be condemned in the strongest way,” argued Halama.

“Hospersa, together with six other unions, will be continuing with the planned strike action starting next week and have served the provincial health department with a notice which deems our action a protected strike,” said Halama. “We have planned pickets and demonstrations across health institutions in the Limpopo province which includes hospitals, clinics and Emergency Medical Services stations to highlight our grievance,” added

“The strike action will continue as planned until the provincial health department withdraws the two circulars and allows consultation with unions to take place,” said Halama. “Should the Department [of Health] honour its threats of closing vaccination stations to prohibit health workers from being vaccinated, Hospersa will lay a formal complaint with the Human Rights Commission of South Africa and the National DoH …”

 

[link url="https://www.iol.co.za/pretoria-news/news/limpopo-health-workers-protest-called-off-as-circulars-put-on-hold-74a58e4b-0693-4a30-b47f-bb2dac104c02"]Full Pretoria News report (Open access)[/link]

 

[link url="https://www.polity.org.za/article/hospersa-blasts-limpopo-health-for-using-covid-19-vaccines-as-a-dispute-bargaining-chip-2021-03-03"]Full Polity report (Open access)[/link]

 

 

See also MedicalBrief archives:

[link url="https://www.medicalbrief.co.za/archives/health-workers-milked-state-of-r2bn-limpopo-health/"]Health workers milked state of R2bn — Limpopo Health[/link]

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