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SA's state laboratory services face a looming strike

A deadlock between laboratory workers and the National Health Laboratory Service has raised the prospects of a nationwide strike.

The country's health services could be facing another strike‚ The Times reports the DA in Gauteng has warned. Jack Bloom‚ DA Gauteng Shadow Health MEC‚ said a deadlock had been reached between National Health Laboratory Service (NHLS) workers and the NHLS. "I am concerned that preparations need to be made at Gauteng state hospitals and clinics for a looming strike at the National Health Laboratory Service (NHLS). Gauteng would be the most affected by this strike‚ but has not done well in contingency arrangements for previous strikes in the health sector‚ including the recent mortuary strike‚" Bloom said.

"According to a letter by NHLS acting CEO Professor Shabir Madhi to heads of provincial health departments‚ there is an impasse with labour over the 2017/18 wage negotiations. The NHLS is only able to offer 3% on total cost-to-company as opposed to the 7.3% demanded by unions. The unions have a certificate of non-resolution from the CCMA and are entitled to go on strike. They are finalising their strike ballot and could be on strike this week."

Bloom said in the report that the NHLS performed more than 80% of all pathology diagnostic services in the country. He said service level agreements between the provinces and the NHLS entitles provinces to use private laboratories if the NHLS is not able to offer its service.

"Arrangements should be made now with private laboratories as a NHLS strike would be devastating for patients who need urgent tests for HIV/Aids‚ malaria‚ cancer‚ and multi-drug resistant TB‚" he said.


The DA has called on Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi to urgently intervene, reports Business Day. DA health spokesperson Patricia Kopane said that Motsoaledi should provide a detailed plan of action to deal with the consequences of the strike.

A strike by about 180 forensic assistants in Gauteng ended when the provincial health department promised to reverse their remuneration scales to their pre-2010 levels. The forensic assistants had embarked on industrial action, claiming they were underpaid and doing work they were not qualified for, the report said.

[link url=""]The Times report[/link]
[link url=""]Business Day report[/link]

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