Cape Town – Health Minister Joe Phaahla has reportedly warned that striking members of the National Education, Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu) who do not return to work on Tuesday morning will face criminal charges or possible dismissal.
“We urge all the workers in the health sector as defined in the court order to report to their workplaces. We believe that this could have been avoided.
“Any employee who fails to comply with this court order will be committing an act of misconduct subject to disciplinary action including possible dismissal. Any person committing any criminal act in pursuit of the strike action will be subjected to criminal proceedings” EWN quoted Phaahla as saying.
The Labour Appeal Court interdicted Nehawu’s strike in essential service sectors on Monday.
The order was “applicable with immediate effect”.
Union members, who have been on strike since last week, are demanding a salary increase of 10-12% instead of the offered – 4.7%.
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According to Daily Maverick, Phaahla said that the ministry and the National Department of Health welcomed the Labour Appeal Court judgment.
“There is no doubt that the strike has disrupted provision of essential healthcare services in the country, leading to untold suffering and frustrations amongst the public who desperately needed healthcare and life-saving treatment and other interventions in the public health facilities,” the report quoted the minister as saying.
Nehawu, however, maintained that the Labour Appeals Court has only interdicted essential service workers from continuing to be part of the public servants’, strike therefore, their strike will continue, SABC reports.
“The strike in its totality has not been interdicted. It is a component of the essential service that has been interdicted. The strike will continue and it is protected. What the judge has done today was to interdict the essential component of it and we intend to comply with that whilst we explore our options,” the report quoted Nehawu president Mike Shingange as saying.
The strike has caused disruptions in number of healthcare facilities across the country and according to Phaahla at least four patients have died “in a manner that could be directly attributed to the strike”.
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Compiled by Olwethu Mpeshe