Staff at Chatsworth hospital picket over poor working conditions

Staff shortages saw nurses having to work as cleaners and clerks

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Staff, including nurses, at RK Khan Hospital in Chatsworth, Durban, picketed on Wednesday over poor working conditions at the facility. Photo: Tsoanelo Sefoloko

Nurses, administration staff and general workers brought parts of RK Khan Hospital in Chatsworth, Durban, to a standstill for about an hour on Wednesday. They protested outside the hospital to highlight what they say are poor working conditions.

Protesting nurses say they are forced to perform cleaning duties in addition to patient care because the hospital has not employed enough cleaners. Other workers complained of staff shortages in the administration and general units.

Workers say they met with the management in February. Union leaders had asked the facility to commit to resolving their complaints.

Nurse Zizakele Ndlovu said they were told by the union leaders that working conditions would improve. But nothing changed, she said.

“The conditions we work under at the hospital are not good. We end up having to work more hours, and we don’t get paid for overtime. Sometimes I even work as a clerk,” she said.

“The department treats us as if we don’t know our job, and we don’t deserve what we are asking for. We lost many workers to Covid; some retired and others resigned. Those vacancies have not been filled. Even at top management there are lots of vacancies and this leads to poor service.”

Chairperson at the hospital of the National Education, Health and Allied and Workers’ Union (NEHAWU) David Mpongose said they had engaged management and had been promised that the situation would improve.

“Our bosses are arrogant. They really don’t take us seriously. Each time they make empty promises, so we decided to protest for the provincial government to assist us,” said Mpongose.

Xolani Mnguni, a cleaner, said he earned R7,800 per month under the hospital’s previous contractor, but now only earns R3,000 under the current contractor. He also said he has to do jobs other than cleaning.

Hospital CEO Linda Sobekwa accepted the workers’ memorandum and signed it on behalf of the provincial health department. She promised to ensure that the department responded within ten days as requested.

Agiza Hlongwane, spokesperson for the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Health, said officials would consider the workers’ demands and respond to them.

TOPICS:  Health Labour

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