South Africa: Nehawu Welcomes Government Intention to Increase Spending in Both Health and Education

press release

The National Education, Health and Allied Workers' Union [NEHAWU] welcomes the announcement by government that there will be increased spending in both health and education. The announcement was made by the President, Honourable Cyril Ramaphosa, during his stimulus package announcement in Pretoria this morning.

As NEHAWU, we have been at the forefront of highlighting the horrible state of both health and education. The national union has been consistently calling for the filling of all vacant funded posts in the public service. On countless occasions we have highlighted the fact that understaffing plays a huge role in impeding service delivery. The public healthcare is the most affected sector with most clinics and hospitals barely functioning.

The President has instructed the Minister of Health and the National Health Council to immediately fill 2,200 critical posts, including nurses and interns. As NEHAWU, we hold a strong view that this number is very little and that more posts would have to be filled in order for the public health sector to perform at its optimum best. By July a study revealed that the public service has 37 000 vacant posts. Our members and workers are subjected to perform duties that are meant for five other people. A nurse is forced to be a porter, administrator and caregiver at the same time. The end result of this is an overworked staff and the minimisation of the quality of service delivery. Government continues to drag its feet in expediting the absorption of the more than 40 000 Community Healthcare Workers into the public service. The national union will monitor the progress and ensure it is concluded as soon as possible.

We welcome the funding that is to be made available to immediately buy beds and linen to address some of the shortages in our hospitals. We hope government will also look into the shortages of medicines in public healthcare institutions. Our strike against the North West Department of Health earlier this year revealed that some institutions did not have enough stock of drugs and that patients are usually turned away without receiving any medication for their ailments.

The national union welcomes the affirmation by the President that there won't be a job bloodbath in the public service. The President made the announcement during his address at the COSATU 13th National Congress on Monday 17th September 2018. We support the call by the President for a moratorium on job cuts because of the dire economic condition the country finds itself under. Currently, we have about 9.6 million unemployed people because of state capture in state owned enterprises and other public institutions, stagnant economy and a large number of vacant funded posts.

NEHAWU reiterates its call for the Presidential job summit to be convened as soon as possible to discuss solutions to the unemployment crisis.

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