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Nehawu says workers forced to resume duties before being cleared of COVID-19

The union has held a national day of prayer in memory of frontline workers who died after contracting the virus.

FILE: A professional healthcare worker wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) monitors a patient in a tent dedicated to the treatment of possible COVID-19 coronavirus patients at the Tshwane District Hospital in Pretoria on 10 July 2020. Picture: AFP

JOHANNESBURG – The National Education, Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu) has accused private and government employers of forcing workers to come to work before they are cleared of COVID-19.

The union has held a national day of prayer in memory of frontline workers who died after contracting the virus.

This was in the run-up the union's national day of action on Thursday.

The union says they want better screening of health care workers, access to personal protective equipment, and for government to honour the public sector agreement.

Since the start of the pandemic, 240 health workers have died from coronavirus related complications.

The day was marked by prayer and attendants pleading with God to save the lives of all frontline workers.

Reverend Chris Mathebula from he Hope Restoration Ministries Church began the prayer session.

“We want to honour You for these lives, these people – the frontline workers.”

Secretary-general of Nehawu Zola Saphetha took to the podium.

“From our internal records, the deaths that Nehawu has accounted for is 983, we are verifying those who really died as a result of COVID.”

The union wants all workers who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 to undergo a full medical evaluation before they are allowed to return to work.

Meanwhile, the union has threatened to withdraw its vote for the African National Congress (ANC) in next year’s elections – if government does not deliver on their demands.

Saphetha said, “We are yet to convene in a meeting of Cosatu where we are going to discuss who to vote for next year. We will make our point. We can’t put a government in place, who refuses to listen to us."

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