Strike by nurses enters second day

Sne Masuku

The strike by nurses in KwaZulu- Natal, led by a "concerned group", entered its second day yesterday, despite threats by the provincial Department of Health that it will enforce the no work, no pay rule.

The nurses, who are demanding payment of all outstanding rural allowances and better working conditions, gathered outside hospital gates holding placards.

Thousands of nursing assistants and registered nurses at major hospitals in the province, including Ngwelezane, Edendale and Prince Mshiyeni, went on strike on Monday.

The provincial Department of Health has ordered the nurses and nursing assistants to return to work, saying the issue was being handled by the national Department of Health.

The spokesman for the nurses' committee, Makhehla Nyandu, said the department had not taken the issue seriously.

Nyandu said: "We have been waiting since 2003, and it is about time we get them really talking and delivering fast."

The nurses' action has been criticised and declared illegal by the National Education, Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu).

Super Zuma, Nehawu's provincial spokesman, said the union would not allow its members to be led into an unprotected strike like the one that is presently taking place.

Zuma said: "We therefore advise our members not to participate in an unprotected strike or any industrial action organised by the so-called concerned group which might result in dire consequences.

"Our members must be kept safe at all times. We believe that nurses' problems can be better resolved through legal means."

Zuma said they were engaging employers at different levels to improve the nurses' working conditions, including pay.

"We ask for the leadership of the concerned group to consider meeting with Nehawu to discuss how to negotiate and manage the working conditions for nurses," said Zuma.