Health Department must take immediate, decisive action against striking workers

Issued by Nqaba Bhanga, MPL
DA Leader in the Eastern Cape Legislature

The Democratic Alliance calls on the Department of Health to take immediate, decisive action against the striking NEHAWU workers who have resorted to violent protests and intimidation.

Shutting down emergency services meant to serve the people of this province in their time of crisis is a blatant act of terrorism and should be treated as such. Arrest the instigators, lay criminal charges against them and put them behind bars.

Words are not enough. The Department needs to take action. Violence and intimidation can never be tolerated, especially when the actions of these individuals are placing others’ lives at risk.

The Department must not tell us that Health is an essential service. They must show us by ensuring that services continue and that those using violence and intimidation to disrupt services are brought to book.

The DA commends the doctors, nurses and staff who have remained at their posts and put the lives of their patients first, despite the very real threat to their well-being.

The DA supports every individual’s right to peaceful protest, but it is clear that the intent behind the current strike action is to be as disruptive as possible, no matter the consequences.

Serious questions need to be asked of the Department. Why is the court interdict not being enforced? Why is no action being taken against these striking workers who are breaking the law and placing the lives of patients at risk?

We do not mean dispersing protesting workers with teargas and rubber bullets. We are calling for decisive action against these workers by the Department.

Individuals who have made it clear that they do not value the lives of the patients they are hired to serve do not deserve to be employed by the Department.

It is despicable, and those who have been caught up in this protest action should be ashamed of themselves and their actions.

I am challenging MEC Nomakhosazana Meth to do the right thing and take decisive disciplinary action against these individuals.