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Nehawu announces health sector protest on 21 August

The union has expressed concern about the lack of protective equipment in public hospitals even as COVID-19 cases are rapidly increasing.

The Gauteng Health MEC Bandile Masuku with teams of field workers in Ekurhuleni District, Glen Marikana Informal settlement to form part of the screening and testing campaign aimed to combat the spread of COVID-19 on 17 April 2020. Pictures: Sethembiso Zulu/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - The National Education, Health and Allied Workers' Union (Nehawu) on Tuesday announced that it would go on a massive protest in the health sector.

The union was concerned about the lack of protective equipment in public hospitals as COVID-19 cases are rapidly increasing.

The union has delivered the outcomes of a fact-finding mission by its national bearers on the state of readiness by government to deal with the pandemic. Nehawu represents a number of workers in the sector, including cleaners, hospital chefs, doctors, nurses, and other support staff.

Nehawu's general secretary Zola Saphetha said that the stay away would be on 21 August.

"...in the form of a complete withdrawal of our labour. Unfortunately, that will happen at the peak of this virus. However, part of our plan will be to also mobilise in communities and we will be interfacing with society members on our plight and experiences."

Recent figures from the Department of Health showed that about 13,000 workers in the health sector were infected with the coronavirus and more than 100 had succumbed to the virus.

Nehawu’s general secretary Zola Saphetha said they had uncovered a general shortage in PPE at the facilities they had visited.

“In all institutions, there are no regular briefings to the labour representatives on infections, cases of isolation, recoveries, and fatalities,” Saphetha said. “Across the board, we have found no branch of the union that has expressed satisfaction with the management’s consultation process.”

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