Nurturers must be true to calling

Civil servants - including nurses, doctors and teachers - are out toyi-toying while patients die and school children are left idle and unattended.

Civil servants - including nurses, doctors and teachers - are out toyi-toying while patients die and school children are left idle and unattended.

Is something wrong with this picture?

How can professionals, whose nominal credo is saving people's lives and nurturing young minds, justify marching alongside folks hoisting makeshift coffins emblazoned with vulgar and crude messages to back demands for higher wages?

Much is wrong with this picture. No amount of anger can justify nurses and doctors rejoicing that their strike is triumphing as measured by the increasing body count of neglected patients.

We are not saying that health workers are not entitled to protest in demand of a living wage.

But theirs is not just another job. They perform an essential service vital to healing the sick, comforting them and saving their lives.

Society holds nurses and doctors in high esteem.

We look up to them because they are special people who dedicate their lives to the good of others.

The same can be said for teachers. We expect them to remember the impression they have on the children that society has entrusted them with shaping into model citizens.

Precisely because of this we - the taxpayers - spend a pile on the education and training of nurses, doctors and teachers. This does not give us the right to expect them to work dangerously long hours in often unbearable conditions, especially without decent compensation.

They are civil servants, not beasts of burden, for crying out loud.

But we do expect them to display more decorum and rise above acts of violence that disrupt schooling and kill people.

Such is the nature of their jobs. It comes with the territory.

They would do well to heed the government's call to return to work or face the consequences of their action.

Their trade unions should revise their wage demands to more reasonable levels that the economy can sustain and accept that salary increases must be linked to productivity. By the same token, the government has to commit to improving public sector salaries.

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