Hospital sit-in now in sixth month

DIRT PILES UP: Bags of garbage lie on the premises of Frontier Hospital while cleaners, contracted by Sbomvana Cleaning Services, continue their sit-in for the sixth month

FRONTIER Hospital cleaners contracted by Sbomvana Cleaning Services are adamant they will not move out of the grounds until they have been paid.

The sit-in by the workers is in its sixth month since more than 80 cleaners decided to down tools in September last year, demanding that hospital management resolve grievances over their pay, including the payment of outstanding monies, with the company.

The Rep reported (“Pay us first”, April 29) that workers were unhappy as they said wages had not been paid, while bonuses dating back to 2013 were also outstanding.

The cleaners were also demanding to be employed by the government.

When The Rep visited this week, the workers were sitting under a tree. They said nurses, patients and general assistants had taken it upon themselves to clean the hospital.

Worker  Ndumiso   Phumlani  said the workers had been served with a letter to vacate the hospital, delivered by department of health officials last month.

“They want us out but we were last paid in December. We are not getting answers. We e-mailed our grievances to the department but they did not reply.”

He said they were told a new company would be contracted to clean.

“We come here every day and sit outside to see if there is another cleaning company coming. They are intimidating us.”

He claimed the police were recently called in to evict them.

“The police were called and told that we were protesting with weapons but when they came they found us peaceful and not fighting with anyone.’’

He said the plight of the cleaners had fallen on deaf ears.

“We have been insulted by people in management. Some have ended up going home because they can not afford to pay rent any more and their landlords were getting fed up with excuses.”

According to the letter seen by The Rep, the contract between the department and Sbomvana ended in September last year.

Worker Mandla Peter said they had not heard from the director of the company, Milton Ncwabe. “Ncwabe does not want to talk to us. We are not moving out until our matter is resolved and no employment will happen until then. We will not sit down and be abused of our rights [sic]. We will fight this until the end.”

He said they had also questioned 85 cleaning posts which were advertised at the hospital.

“We meet the requirements, but not one of us from Sbomvana was called for interviews. There is a lot of corruption here.”

Questions were sent to health spokesman Sizwe Kupelo, who said the matter was between the company and the workers.

“The cleaning workers are employed by a private company and your questions should be directed to their employer.

“The department is concerned about the ongoing disruptions at the hospital and is now seeking legal assistance to deal with the matter.”

Contacted for comment this week, Sbomvana’s Ncwabe said his company was no longer contracted to the department and asked the paper not to call him again.


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