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South Africa: Patients Turned Away At Clinics As National Strikes Get Going

Dozens of patients were turned away from Lusikisiki Village Clinic today as strike action kicked in – and they now wait with uncertainty as it remains unclear when things will return to normal.

The clinics closed as part of Nehawu’s strike action that is expected to bring public facilities across the country to a standstill this week – and is confirmed to continue on Tuesday.

People from various villages queued for over seven hours for help at the clinic in the Eastern Cape until they found out they would not be attended to because of the strike.

Andisiwe Madyibi, who travelled from Mcwabantsasa, missed her pregnancy checkup.

“We started seeing people from another hospital being moved to the clinic while we sat there. The next thing a nurse came and told us that only people who’ve just given birth would be attended to, and we must go home because there is a strike.”

A nurse who spoke to Scrolla.Africa and did not want to be identified said: “We are working here as usual but I would rather not say if we are taking part in the strike or not. I cannot divulge any more information.”

Despite a court interdict to halt the strike, the National Education, Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu) is going ahead with its planned public service strike, according to the collective bargaining officer, Zola Sapetha.

Nehawu and other public sector unions have been locked in a long-standing battle with the government over wages. Speaking to Scrolla.Africa, he emphasised that until the government heeds their demands, recipients of public services will continue to be affected.

“Our demands that we put on the table in 2022 for 3% in progression, housing allowance and other things are still valid. We are very much fixed on saying that we are not going to start negotiations in 2023 until the 2022 issues are resolved,” he said.

“We are aware people will be affected. The strike is a power play, hence we always tell the employer before going on strike it’s the only resort we have as workers and that the only way we are going to get them to heed our demands is by withdrawing our labour, unfortunately.”

In other parts of OR Tambo Municipality, services continue to be rendered as normal.

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