Nurses halt services

Mhlaba Memela

Mhlaba Memela

King Edward VIII Hospital in Durban came to a standstill yesterday as thousands of workers, including nurses, staged a protest demanding the removal of a private security company.

The company, Vuka Security Force, had been hired to guard non-striking workers during the recently ended strike.

Sowetan noticed security guards wielding shotguns escorting the hospital manager, Mboneni Bhekiswayo.

The workers said they felt threatened and intimidated by the presence of heavily armed security guards.

The protest left scores of patients unattended for more than three hours.

The workers are members of the National Education, Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu), Hospersa and the Democratic Nurses Organisation of South Africa (Denosa).

The boisterous crowd said there was no need for management to keep the security company as the strike was over. They also demanded that management explain the thorny issue of no work, no pay.

Sivuyile Ntshokoma of Nehawu said they were not on strike but that union members wanted management to engage with them.

"We want to see the register that was marked by management during the strike, since there were people who signed it but still joined the strike.

"Management should also withdraw the court interdict that prevented us from entering the hospital during the strike," he said.

The workers returned to work yesterday after management agreed to meet union representatives behind closed doors.

Spokesman for the KwaZulu-Natal department of health Leon Mbangwa said there was a 100 percent attendance at all hospitals in the province.

"One expects that outcomes of the strike were communicated by union leaders to their members."

He said the services of Vuka Security Force had already been terminated. "Their last shift ended at midnight on Sunday."