One nurse left at Malmesbury prison after 8 suspended in shift row
TWO MORE nurses were suspended from the Wester n Cape’s Malmesbury prison this week for refusing to change to a newly introduced shift system, bringing the number relieved of duties since the beginning of the month to eight.
The Department of Correctional Services said it had suspended the eight professional nurses at Malmesbury Correctional Centre following their refusal to work flexible hours in line with the newly introduced seven-day system.
The department said it had redeployed nurses from other facilities to support the one remaining nurse.
Spokesman Manelisi Wolela said the eight were the only nurses out of 163 working in the region that objected to the changes.
“The department wishes to warn anyone seeking to make the new working system unworkable against such illegal actions.”
He said the seven-day working week was in line with policy to ensure effective implementation of a structured day programme for inmates, and to do away with R1.3 billion in overtime payments.
The change came about as a result of the Occupation Specific Dispensation for nurses, which requires a 40-hour work week, with shifts on Saturdays and Sundays that do not include overtime pay.
But the provincial secretary of the South African Democratic Nurses Union, Ndoyisile Sekwati, said: “We are shocked and dismayed by the suspensions. Both the inmates and officials working at the prison have their health placed at risk by prison management.
“The union has filed a document with the Public Health and Social Development Sectoral Bargaining Council.
“We are consulting with our lawyers to have the suspended nurses reinstated.”
He said there were about 1 350 inmates.
Sekwati said the nurses were suspended by management when they refused to be forced into changing shifts without proper consultation.
The nurses used to work Monday to Fridays and if they worked on weekends they were paid overtime.
“Now if they work overtime, they just get time off in the week.”