Official, union at loggerheads

Komani Psychiatric Hospital

The Matthew Goniwe region of Nehawu has called health department superintendent general Thobile Mbengashe ‘an arrogant man’ who treats employees like commodities, following the precautionary suspension of its four members.

The employees are charged for allegedly forcing their way into the office of the CEO of Komani Hospital, while also forcing him to leave the hospital premises for allegedly blatantly violating physical distancing protocols and for preventing a driver from delivering meals to mental healthcare users in July.

The Rep reported (Patients go hungry, August 7) that Komani Hospital patients were deprived of food on Tuesday, only being served one meal during the day due to the downing of tools by staff who claimed the institution management was gambling with their lives.

Nehawu regional secretary Mvuyisi Siko said Mbengashe, who gave the directive for the suspensions, was reckless in his approach to resolving matters at the hospital.

“We will challenge the decision by the department. Under normal circumstances, when the employer needs to undertake disciplinary action against a shop steward they must inform the union of their intention and consult it to ascertain whether or not the alleged transgression was due to employee duties in relation to their union work, because  in some instances the lines are blurred.”

Siko indicated the department had not consulted the union and had abandoned a meeting it had agreed upon and instead issued the precautionary suspension letters.

“We have responded to the reckless Mbengashe, who seems to regard the hospital matters in an irrational and illegal manner. We wrote to him but cannot disclose the contents of our reply as this is still an internal matter. We indicated our position on the matter and the illegality of the suspension of the employees.

“We do not believe the department has a case, but we do know the Komani Hospital problems will not start and end with Mbengashe’s arrogance, they will continue to be like this if he continues to deal with workers like commodities and not humans.”

The department of health communication head of communication, Siyanda Manana, had not responded to questions by the time of going to print.

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