Management at the Thelle Mogoerane Hospital (Natalspruit Hospital) in Vosloorus have been chased away by hospital staff‚ who are angry about a strike by security guards who work in the health facility. The Times reports that on arriving at the hospital, it was found that nurses and other medical staff had stopped working and were removing management personnel from the premises‚ demanding to know why the guards had downed tools.
The report says guards hired by private firm Sidas Security Guards stopped work on 18 October‚ claiming they have not been paid. But the absence of guards at the entrance and other parts of the hospital has put patients and other workers at risk.
“Since we started working here in 2014‚ our employer has struggled to pay us on payday. This time we decided to stop working because we have had enough of it‚” said one of the striking guards‚ who did not want to be named. “We want our money first and we will go back to work. Every day we come here and sit at the entrance of the hospital waiting to get paid. If we get paid‚ we will immediately go back to work.”
The security guard added: “Things are really getting bad in the hospital since we stopped working. One (psychiatric) patient committed suicide and we have been told of children who have disappeared without being documented by hospital administration.”
The guard said when they enquired about payment‚ their employer said that the health department had not paid the employer. “We have nothing to do with our employer not being paid. We signed a contract with the company that we will get paid on the seventeenth of each month. We just want our money‚” the guard said in the report.
No contingency plan to deal with security has been implemented at this regional hospital – and says a report in The Times, thugs have already spotted their opportunity. In the bathrooms on the ground floor of the hospital‚ all the taps in the male toilets have been stolen.
But the medical staff are hardest hit by the strike, the report says. “We are working under very difficult circumstances‚” said one medical worker‚ who did not want to be named. “Our lives and those of patients are in danger. Patients who have been injured in violent fights come to this hospital to be treated. Someone can just come through the entrance‚ into their wards and finish them off.”
“The situation is worse for those in psychiatric wards‚ where patients can also become violent‚” the medical staffer said. “It is really a risky situation that needs urgent attention.”
The report says despite concerns for their safety‚ the medical and administration staff has continued to do their jobs‚ hoping a quick solution would be found before the security situation got out of hand.
The report says each day‚ the guards report for duty‚ sign their attendance register and then simply sit down to wait for their salaries. Their union has advised them to keep coming to the hospital so that‚ as soon as they receive their money‚ they can simply go back to work immediately.
The trade union representing striking security guards says it is the Gauteng Department of Health and Sidas Security Guards who have failed to honour their promises‚ leading to the impasse at the facility. The Times quotes Trade Union of Security Industry in South Africa (Tusisa) president Teboho Motloung as saying that September’s salaries to the guards were not paid on time.
“When we intervened as a union last month‚ payments were made very late. We then got a promise from Sidas that money would be paid. They honoured that promise. From that day we have been having continuous engagement with Sidas to make sure that come October‚ this problem does not happen again‚” said Motloung.
But the security guards were again not paid on their payday‚ 17 October. A meeting was then held between the management of the hospital‚ the Gauteng Department of Health‚ Sidas Security Guards and Tusisa on 19 October. In the meeting‚ Motloung said‚ the department acknowledged that it had not paid the security company.
“The department asked that we give it 15 more days to sort out the payment‚ but the guards instructed us that this was too much for them‚” Motloung said.
“A deal was then struck with the department that the guards would receive their money after five days. We told the department that we accept the five days but we are still not going to work. Tuesday was the final day on which the guards were supposed to be paid‚ but that did not happen unfortunately. No one has contacted us to tell us what is happening‚” he added.
According to the report, Motloung said the union planned to visit the Sidas offices in Johannesburg to disrupt the working day. “We are going to drive people out their office. Those offices must be closed. They are paying thousands of rands on rent but they are unable to pay their guards. They have breached their contract more than once‚” Motloung said.
[link url="https://www.timeslive.co.za/news/south-africa/2017-10-25-striking-guards-cause-fury-at-vosloorus-hospital/"]The Times report[/link]
[link url="https://www.timeslive.co.za/news/south-africa/2017-10-25-we-are-working-under-dangerous-circumstances-say-medical-staff/"]The Times report[/link]
[link url="https://www.timeslive.co.za/news/south-africa/2017-10-25-government-failed-to-honour-its-promises-at-hospital-union/"]The Times report[/link]