Ramaphosa Urges Essential Workers to Continue Working Amidst Violent Nehawu Strike
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has criticised The National Education, Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu) due to its violent nature and its potential danger to the lives of people. According to a report by TimesLIVE, the strike is said to have led to the deaths of four individuals. However, Ramaphosa emphasised that while workers in the country have the right to strike, that right is not absolute, especially for those workers in essential services like doctors and nurses, who play critical roles in ensuring the safety and well-being of citizens. He added that essential workers should not be on strike.
Health Minister Joe Phaahla, Gauteng Premier Panyaza Lesufi, and health MEC Nomantu Nkomo-Ralehoko visited healthcare facilities affected by the strike, including Charlotte Maxeke and Helen Joseph hospitals. However, striking Nehawu members reportedly prevented patients from accessing several hospitals and clinics as they demanded a 10% wage hike.
To address the situation, the Gauteng health department obtained a court interdict against Nehawu to prevent members from obstructing patient health services. The department will be taking disciplinary action against employees violating the court order, according to Phaahla. The strike had been running for four days on Thursday.
Ramaphosa urged workers to prioritise the lives and interests of South Africans and emphasised that the violent nature of the strike was unacceptable. He called for an end to the strike and said that while workers have the right to protest, there should be no violence that will lead to people getting injured or prevented from performing their tasks. The president also reiterated that essential workers should not be on strike and they would not receive pay if they did not work during the strike.
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