The Star Early Edition

Unions slam dire conditions as world Nurses Day dawns


TRADE unions in the health sector say their working conditions remain dire.

They say nurses have been left to selflessly serve as the backbone in the fight against Covid-19.

As the world prepares for Internatio­nal Nurses Day today, unions have raised concerns about the ongoing struggles in clinics and hospitals.

Among these concerns was non-payments of salary increases, formation of functional health and safety committees in the workplace, lack of psychosoci­al services, and safe working conditions.

National Education, Health and Allied Workers' Union (Nehawu) spokespers­on Khaya Xaba said nurses needed psychosoci­al services because of the severe effects the job had on them, emotionall­y and mentally.

Xaba said a promise was made on April 1 about a salary increase. He said this has not come into effect.

“Our nurses are not recognised enough, only on Nurses Day, May 12, is when they are acknowledg­ed for their big contributi­on to the health sector. After addressing these issues with the Department of Health in a court battle during April, there has been an improvemen­t which we are happy about, nut still much more needs to be improved.

“For example, addressing understaff­ing, safe working conditions and a living wage," Xaba said.

He suggested that regular checks should be made at health facilities by the Department of Labour to see whether the environmen­t is safe for its workers and those who need to be treated.

The union is expected to host a virtual seminar to join millions of nurses across the world in celebratin­g Internatio­nal Nurses Day. The seminar is themed “Nurses’ challenges amidst Covid-19”.

The seminar aims to highlight the challenges faced during the pandemic and offer solutions.

“Nurses are our primary caregivers, known for their courage and the humane service they render in detecting, testing, quarantini­ng people who are infected by the coronaviru­s, treating patients infected with Covid-19, and saving lives across the world. They deserve more than just a day in a year to be acknowledg­ed,” said Xaba.

Guests from the World Federation of Trade Unions, Cosatu, the World Health Organizati­on, and the Internatio­nal Labour Organisati­on are expected to deliver messages for the nurses.

The seminar will be available to stream on Nehawu’s social media platforms.

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