One nurse left at Malmes­bury prison af­ter 8 sus­pended in shift row

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NEWS - ME­LANIE PETERS and SAPA

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.”

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