Nurses won't join teachers' strike
BY MDUDUZI MAGAGULA
MBABANE – The Swaziland Democratic Nurses Union (SWADNU) says it will not join the ongoing ‘strike’ dubbed ‘Waya-waya’ (indefinite) by the Swaziland National Association of Teachers (SNAT).
President Bheki Mamba said the issue of salaries was not very pressing to members of his union at the moment.
He also said nurses belonged to a cadre of civil servants classified as essential services.
Mamba said what was important to nurses was their health and safety in the environment they worked in.
Mamba said a lot of them were dying because of government’s failure to provide adequate safety facilities in hospitals and clinics.
"We work in a highly infectious environments for 24 hours each day. We work in wards where there are many sick patients with no protective systems in place," he said.
He said what compounded their situation was the fact that when they fell sick , government did not implement compensatory mechanisms to assist them in coping with the ailment they contracted from work.
He said a lot of diseases that affected them could have been prevented.
He said government’s failure to provide safety measures in clinics had resulted in the death of some of the union’s members.
Mamba said many health workers were contracting tuberculosis (TB) from uncontrolled exposure to working with ailing patients.
This, he said, was a result of the lack of ventilating mechanisms at hospitals, which would ensure sufficient circulation of the air so that the germs could be blown out of the wards.
He said their environment was not safe and government was not doing anything to address this problem.
Mamba said the union would engage a consultant to validate these claims.
He said the consultant would review the working environment of the various health centres and come up with a report they would use to engage government on the various problems that will be pinpointed by the report.
He said the union would meet on July 27 to decide on the next move to put pressure on government to improve the facilities.
The president said one way of forcing government to improve the facilities was to reduce the number of duties nurses did.
"We will stop doing duties outside the scope of the services we provide. We will not do incisions and drainage of boils, for example," he said.
Mamba said deciding against joining the SNAT strike did not mean they were against salary adjustments.
He said the union also wanted the money because they were also badly affected by inflation.
He said the union was still working on logistics of putting pressure to government to increase nurse’s salaries.
"Government has a lot of money. That is why they afford to send huge delegations on overseas trips and politicians are still paying themselves hefty amounts through Finance Circular Number 1 (of 2010)," he said.
He also said government had failed to heed to unions’ advice on reduction of ministries to save money.
SNAT President Sibongile Mazibuko said she could not comment on this matter.
Government spokesperson Percy Simelane commended nurses for ‘their wisdom’ in not participating in the ‘Waya waya’ strike action by teachers.
"Government is grateful to them for resisting the temptation to participate in an illegal strike aimed at poisoning order in our schools," he said.
He said the welfare of nurses was paramount to government because these professionals were at the axis of life for every citizen.
Simelane said government was working on their concerns but the pace was determined not only by the need but by financial readiness.
"We would like to kindly appeal to nurses for patience and understanding," he said.
Teachers’ mass meeting Tuesday
MBABANE – SNAT President Sibongile Mazibuko says the ‘Waya waya’ consultative meetings which disrupted classes in schools the past week would continue tomorrow.
She said the meetings were important and encouraged teachers to attend them.
A mass meeting was being organised for Tuesday, July 3, 2012 and teachers from all the regions were expected to attend.
The meeting will be held at the SNAT Centre in Manzini, starting at 10am.
Teachers will discuss a way forward in terms of the 4.5 per cent demand following the various consultations that were hosted by regions and branches over the past week.
"We will also discuss the interim judgment we won in court regarding the SNAT leadership’s contempt of court charges," she said.
She said the Tuesday briefing was important because they wanted to hear from the masses how to proceed in terms dealing with the issue.
She also said on July 10, the court would deliberate and deliver a judgment to the interim order that was issued by the Industrial Court at about 1am on June 20, 2012.
This judgment declared the teachers strike action illegal.
Mazibuko clarified that the past week’s action that disrupted operations in schools was not a strike but a series of ‘consultative meetings’ by members of the association which started from sub branches to the branches and regions.
She said the consultations would continue tomorrow (Monday) with the mass meeting being held the following day.
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