Bhisho moves to assist after action by company workers
Public hospitals in Nelson Mandela Bay were left without security yesterday after guards went on strike, first at Dora Nginza Hospital and later at Livingstone and Provincial hospitals. Provincial health spokesman Sizwe Kupelo said a team headed by the provincial head of security was immediately sent down from Bhisho to assist the hospitals.
“There will be no security vacuum at the hospitals,” he said.
Yesterday morning, however, the public order police had to be called in after angry security guards entered the Dora Nginza Hospital and threatened staff.
They then moved to the gate where they protested peacefully.
Interim chief executive Nonkululeko Dyasi said she wanted to make it clear that the strike had nothing to do with the Department of Health.
“It is an internal protest within Mafoko Security,” she said.
Fearing the security guards, she would only enter the hospital with an armed escort yesterday.
Striking workers signed a memorandum that stated they were unhappy because they were required to perform duties that were outside their training, including having to deal with psychiatric patients and patients with drug-resistant TB.
They also claimed they had evidence of sexual harassment by Mafoko Security supervisors.
They said they were unhappy with the company policies with regards to sick leave, their provident fund contributions and the way disciplinary codes were being applied.
Kupelo said: “The strike is about an internal matter between Mafoko Security and its employees. We are affected as an innocent third party.
“One of the issues is that they want to be permanently employed by the Department of Health.
“This is being discussed at cabinet level. It is not in our hands.”
By noon yesterday the strike had spread to the Livingstone and Provincial hospitals, the hospitals’ chief executive, Thulane Madonsela, said.
“An appropriate contingency plan will be put in place,” he said.
Madonsela said he had been assured by Mafoko Security that they would address their workers’ grievances by today.
Mafoko Security personnel referred all queries to their site manager in Port Elizabeth, who did not respond to several requests for comment.