Return to work, court orders nurses
MBABANE – Members of Swaziland Nurses Association (SNA) have been interdicted and restrained from embarking on the on- going strike action or withdrawal of their services.
It was further ordered that no one shall prevent or stop the nurses from returning to work or stop them from carrying on with their duties and that included fellow nurses, members of the Royal Swaziland Police and any other person.
The application, which was on a certificate of urgency, was heard yesterday.
Crown Counsel Sifiso Khumalo said the matter was urgent because the lives of patients in government hospitals and clinics were at serious risk. He added that patients’ lives were used to settle whatever score the nurses had with government, and the possibility of death was eminent.
Government, in its application, sought to interdict the strike action which was called by SNA on Wednesday, as it was allegedly not in conformity with the provisions of the Industrial Relations Act of 2000 (IRA).
An affidavit of Sikelela Dlamini, Undersecretary in the Ministry of Health was attached to the application. He said government received a letter from SNA on Tuesday, in terms of which SNA, at City Inn, had resolved to withdraw nursing services from Wednesday if their demands were not addressed by government.
The reason put forth for the withdrawal was government’s failure to engage public sector unions on the 4.5 per cent demand. "I state that on top of the 4.5 per cent, they listed 14 other demands," Dlamini noted.
SNA members were allegedly advised of the unlawfulness of the withdrawal of services but they continued. Government further received a petition from SNA, informing it to meet the demands in a day, and failure to do so would result in a complete shut down of health facilities on Wednesday.
"I state that the health services, of which the respondent members are part of, has been designated as one of the essential services by the Act (IRA) and therefore prohibited from engaging in a strike action," Dlamini said.
He said there was no attempt by SNA to follow laid down procedure in terms of disputes in essential services.
SNA had to follow the provisions of Section 96 of the IRA in terms of the 4.5 per cent demand, and to engage government on the other demands.
Government has allegedly been transparent and acted in good faith in its dealings with civil service employee representative associations, particularly regarding the fiscal adjustment challenges; including its inability to finance its budget.
Sipho Madzinane represented the SNA while Sifiso Khumalo, Vuyile Dlamini and Tholi Vilakati represented government.
Madzinane said as far as he was concerned, there was no need for an interdict. "If government wants the interdict, it has to adhere to the aspirations of the respondent. Why would you look for an order when you already have one?"
Khumalo urged the court to grant the interim order pending finalisation of negotiations between the parties.
The court was adjourned after Judge Mazibuko told the representatives to settle the matter among themselves, which they did, and the consent was endorsed as a final court order.
‘Detain cops who prevent nurses from going to work’
MBABANE – Industrial Court Judge, Dumisani Mazibuko, called for the detention of members of the police service who stopped nurses from going to work.
Nurses accused members of the police service of having stopped them from going to work yesterday. This was revealed in court yesterday when government sought an order interdicting nurses from going on with the strike. The order was granted by Mazibuko and it was agreed that the order was final as opposed to interim.
Lawyer, Sipho Madzinane, on behalf of the SNA said he could not agree to the grant of the order unless the aspirations of the respondents were adhered to. These were explained to be that the police be interdicted from stopping nurses who went to work. The police were allegedly deployed in health facilities. Nurses went on to deny that they were on strike. They said they had withheld their services on the day so they could march to deliver a petition. It was stated that they knew they were essential services and not allowed to go on strike.
"It would be wrong for the police to do that, they should be arrested," Mazibuko said. However, Sifiso Khumalo, Crown Counsel disputed the allegations as an untruth. SNA’s President, Bheki Mamba said nurses were stopped from going on with their duties at three government hospitals; Mankayane, Hlatikhulu and Pigg’s Peak.
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