Front-line workers who died from Covid-19 while serving their people in the pandemic were remembered for their hard work with a candle-lit National Memorial Day.
Members of the National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union ( Nehawu) met at Frontier Hospital on Tuesday.
Matthew Goniwe regional chairman Noluthando Masango expressed gratitude to the heroes and heroines who fought to save lives against Covid-19.
“We condemn the attack against the rights of our members. Workers were not allowed to test for Covid-19 unless they showed signs and symptoms after being in contact with those who had the virus. We have had enough of saying ‘may your soul rest in peace’,” Masango said.
Instead, workers were asked to have themselves tested through their medical aid, if they had one.
“Employees who refused to take unreasonable instructions from management were subjected to disciplinary processes. We have four shop stewards on precautionary suspension.”
Masango added that the grievance procedure was not followed properly in government institutions.
On Wednesday a motorcade was to take place from the regional office of Nehawu and on Thursday a memorandum was to be handed over in various areas of the province.
“The memorandum was to be submitted with an ultimatum of five days. If it is not met, Nehawu will withdraw labour.”
The demands include risk assessment, risk allowance, filling of vacancies and salary adjustment.
Concerning Eastern Cape Health department superintendent-general, Dr Tobile Mbengashe, who resigned after the union had called for him to step down, she said skills audit for management positions should be conducted.
Regional deputy chairman Sibuso Kamte said: “Workers should be permanently absorbed. A high number of community health workers contracted the virus but they were not permanently employed. General workers were placed in wards full of Covid-19 patients, some are forced to wash linen and change nappies without the appropriate PPE.”
Regional secretary Mvuyisi Siko said the union welcomed the resignation of Mbengashe, who Nehawu believed was incompetent.
“We do not see any official in the department to lead as SG. We hope the next appointee will be someone capable, who will not be appointed for political reasons,” Siko said.
Frontier Hospital acting CEO Dr Hubert Mushid said: “We must all be together in this fight. The enemy is invisible.
“Thank you to the frontline workers in this region and the country. They are making huge sacrifices by coming to work during the pandemic. Thank you for all your sacrifices.”