Doctors had to be escorted into Johannesburg’s Charlotte Maxeke Hospital during the National Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) strike on Wednesday.
A doctor who spoke to TimesLIVE on condition of anonymity said he arrived for work at 7am, but could not drive in as the road to the hospital and its entrance were barricaded by protesters.
“I understand their concerns, but I wish they would allow us to report for duty without hassles. We don’t feel comfortable, but what can we do,” he said.
Police escorted some personnel and patients, ordering that rocks be removed so officials could pass.
Vhonani Masindu, regional secretary of Nehawu, denied protesters were stopping workers from reporting for duty.
“It’s not true that they couldn’t come out or come in for the shift. When members of Nehawu who are nurses stopped at the gates, the matrons came from inside and begged them to go inside so the critical areas could be attended to. Those who were going in didn’t have any hiccups.”
Strikers are picketing at medical facilities countrywide.
Nehawu and the government were deadlocked at wage negotiations after the state implemented a 3% increase. The union is demanding 10%. Though government secured an interim interdict against the strike, Nehawu said it would continue its action pending a Labour Appeal Court motion to set it aside.
Masindu said: “You reach a deadlock if one party is not interested. If the government offers something better, we are always open for negotiation.”
“The mandate we got from our members is 10% and remains so. It’s not ambitious.”