Covid-19: Hospital staff demand protective gear and danger pay

NEHAWU meets with Dora Nginza hospital management to resolve complaints

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Photo of workers
Some staff at Dora Nginza Hospital in Zwide are demanding that they be given personal protective equipment (PPE) and danger allowance among other things. Photo: Thamsanqa Mbovane

Over 100 clerks, nurses, porters and general staff at Dora Nginza Hospital in Zwide township, Port Elizabeth, downed tools briefly on Friday, demanding they be given personal protective equipment (PPE) and danger allowance among other things.

Workers were singing Zeningoyiki (Don’t be afraid) and Sawabeth’ amagwala (We will beat the cowards) and banging on doors as they made their way from one office to another, encouraging their colleagues to join.

In the background, dozens of patients sat unattended on waiting room benches. The protest was led by the National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (NEHAWU).

A man who only identified himself as a NEHAWU shop steward said: “You work as if nothing is happening. This Covid-19 is affecting all of us, whether you’re managers or whatsoever … We are demanding danger allowance, and we are saying that Covid-19 should have been budgeted for. We are working with sick people and we stand a chance of getting sick too.”

NEHAWU regional secretary Busiswa Stokwe said workers were angry that the hospital would host Covid-19 patients as an isolation facility. “Workers argue that they were not consulted about this. Their understanding is that the only process they will get involved in is Covid-19 screening. Thereafter patients will be referred to Livingston Hospital for testing,” she said.

Stokwe said: “There is also a stigma of public transport. Any taxi that finds out that you work at Dora Nginza won’t transport you, saying there is Covid-19 in that hospital. Workers say taxis [have refused to transport them]. A nurse and a doctor at this institution have also tested positive for Covid-19.”

Eastern Cape health spokesman Siyanda Manana confirmed that workers had returned to work by Friday afternoon. “Their leadership met the CEO and their complaints were attended to. No service delivery was compromised. We’re monitoring the situation,” he said.

TOPICS:  Covid-19 Health

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