Healthcare workers affiliated to the key National Education, Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu) are set to continue with lunch-hour demonstrations for improved working conditions and pay.
In the meantime, the union’s leaders are hoping to hold sectoral meetings with the ministers of different relevant departments to have their pleas heard.
The union, the largest public-sector union in SA, announced the latest programme of action following a special national executive committee last weekend to discuss the option of a full-blown strike.
Union general-secretary, Zola Saphetha, said they were yet to receive a response from President Cyril Ramaphosa to a memorandum delivered to the Union Buildings on September 3, despite the union giving his office a further notice on Friday of its intent to withdraw labour.
Saphetha said it was disappointing the Presidency had only acknowledged the receipt of its letter and nothing about responding to demands. It was decided the union would continue with demonstrations in all workplaces across the provinces while continuing discussions the Presidency.
Further meetings would be held with the Health, Employment and Labour, Social Development, Higher Education and Training, and Public Service and Administration Ministries, including the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) and other parastatals.
“Another meeting will be convened in two weeks to receive a detailed report on the discussions and the outcomes of these meetings and to assess whether or not they are making headway in responding adequately and positively to our demands for the benefit of our members and workers.
“In the meantime, the national union will be intensifying its preparations and plans for a full-blown strike which will affect both private and public health, parastatals, public service administration, higher education, including both private and public social development.”
The union would be deploying its national and provincial office bearers across regions to support and reinforce the mobilisation of members if there is nothing favourable to members and workers, in general, coming out of the meetings, he said.
Saphetha said the mass action would be integrated with the Cosatu general strike scheduled for October 7.
Cosatu will be holding a general strike on that day to force the government to act against corruption, and for Ramaphosa’s government to speed up the prosecution of corrupt individuals.
Some of the union’s demands include the call for workplaces to ensure full compliance with the Occupational Health and Safety Act, the immediate establishment of health committees in all workplaces, and for the Department of Health to prohibit hospital managers from preventing workers going into quarantine if they believed they had been exposed to Covid-19.
It wants workers be screened daily and for the department to roll out a national testing programme of non-communicable diseases.
The union also wants a risk allowance to be paid to front-line workers (in the Covid-19 pandemic), in addition to government ditching its decentralised and fragmented approach in the procurement of personal protective equipment.
Also on the list is salary increases due in April as resolved at the Public Service Coordinating Bargaining Council (PSCBC) in 2018.