South Africa: Four deaths linked to health workers’ strike


South Africa’s Minister of Health Joe Phaahla said Thursday that approximately four deaths could be directly attributed to the continuing nurses’ strike.

“There’s an indication that up to a number of four people are likely to have lost their lives in a manner that can be attributed directly to the strike,” Phaahla told a press conference Thursday at a hospital in Johannesburg.

The strike by workers affiliated with the National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union started on Monday as the employees demanded a 10 to 12 percent salary increment, but the administration had only put forward an offer of less than five percent.

It has devolved into violence and a threat to human life as protesters bar non-strikers from entering facilities to provide desperately needed services to communities, the majority of whom rely on the public health service for access to health care, according to the minister, who noted that the department was presently discussing its legal alternatives with the legal team to address the strike.

“Some time later today or tomorrow, we will get our legal advice,” he said, adding that the principle of “no work, no pay” would be applied.

They would also look into filing criminal charges against any employees who may have participated in the disturbances, he said.

According to the department, some hospitals were completely shut down on Wednesday where patients were left unattended as striking employees entered the wards and ordered staff out of the facilities, and it was reported that problems persisted at several health institutions on Thursday morning. Enditem

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