3 March 2020
Clinics in Motherwell, Port Elizabeth re-opened on Tuesday as striking security guards agreed to return to work.
The clinic in NU10 was closed by community members who accused the Department of Health of failing to solve long-standing grievances at health facilities.
This follows a strike by nurses last week which also resulted in the five-day closure of a number of health facilities in the area. Nurses demanded that MEC for Health, Sindiswa Gomba, keep promises she made last year to improve security and other working conditions. The nurses’ strike ended after a meeting with their superiors where it was agreed that they would return to work pending the settlement of their grievances.
Health facilities in Port Elizabeth are guarded by Phiko Security Services. The company said the department did not have enough funds to pay them. In a letter addressed to security guards on Monday afternoon, Phiko management told workers that they would only be receiving 50℅ of their February salaries. The balance would be paid in April, it said.
Nothuthuzelo Jack, a member of the NU10 clinic committee, said they decided to close the clinic to protect the institution’s infrastructure from criminals. “The clinics were closed last week due to a strike by nurses. This shows that the department has failed in its duty of providing better health services to citizens,” she said.
Jack said during last week’s shutdown,patients were forced to travel to Dora Nginza Hospital for treatment. “Some patients who are taking antiretroviral drugs defaulted because they did not have the taxi fare to go to the hospital. We want the MEC of Health to deliver better standards at our health facilities,” she said.
Ward 57 Councillor Becinga Mbuqu said, “This should not be happening if they had communicated the message to the company and workers in time. It is distressing to see sick people going back home untreated. This should not be repeated because it makes communities angry.”
The Health MEC’s spokesperson Judy Ngoloyi said they met the security company on Monday to end the strike. A source told GroundUp that the department had promised to pay the security company by next month. The clinics were re-opened on Tuesday morning.