Health union fumes over firings

Sne Masuku

The Health and Other Services Personnel Trade Union is spitting fire because the KwaZulu-Natal Health Department has fired 38 nurses for illegally striking against unpaid rural allowances.

This follows the decision of a tribunal that probed the unfair dismissals of more than 1 000 nurses in February.

Last week department head Busi Nyembezi said the tribunal recommended that 365 nurses found not guilty be reinstated and paid their salaries. It also recommended that about 720 nurses be reinstated, given final written warnings and attend disciplinary hearings.

However, the union's spokesman, Noel Desfontaines, yesterday said if their members were not reinstated immediately the union would take the department to the labour court.

Desfontaines said they had asked the health and welfare bargaining council to look into the dismissals.

He also said some of those dismissed had not even gone on strike.

"We were not consulted. We were initially told that no one would be dismissed."

National Education and Health Workers Union (Nehawu) said that though members were told not to go on an unprotected strike, the damage had been done.

Nehawu's provincial spokesman, Super Zuma, said not all the dismissed members were guilty and that they had been misled.

He said they deserved a second chance.

"We are looking at individual cases and will decide how to help them get their jobs back," he said.