“No jobs, no vote,” shouted disgruntled nurses who marched to the provincial health department in Pietermaritzburg.
Hundreds of nurses carried placards and handed over a memorandum demanding that unemployed nurses be employed by the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Health. Nurses from the Health and Other Service Personnel Trade Union of South Africa (HOSPERSA) were part of the march.
The marchers said there were 15,000 unemployed nurses in KZN and 40,000 vacancies for nurses nationwide, according to a “study”.
But when GroundUp asked the provincial chairperson of HOSPERSA, Thamsanqa Zondi, the source of these figures, he said the figures were estimates and should not be used by the media. He said the union did not have a copy of the study.
Last year nurses marched three times demanding that the health department prioritise their demands.
United Nurses Forum president Bhekithemba Gumbi said nothing had changed. Quoting the same figures, he said there was “an extreme shortage of nurses” in the province.
“One nurse is expected to take care of three patients or more. The department is not hiring staff yet nurses are without jobs. The problem is with the government that we voted for.”
A nurse from a Durban hospital, Nonhle Zimu, said the marchers also wanted a wage increase.
“In olden days, nursing was a calling. Nursing is now a profession and it should be taken as one. Passion and love cannot pay the bills,” she said.
“It’s the fourth time we come to the same building. Our demands are not taken seriously because we are nurses. We are asking ourselves what kind of government we voted for. If our demands are not met, we are not voting.”
“We are overworked,” said United Nursing Federation deputy president Khanye Dlomo. She said the heads of the department had no idea of the work overload.
“We work like slaves in hospitals. The community hates us. The department doesn’t care. We need to make the community aware that the problem is with the government, not the nurses. The community must know that we are short-staffed. The workload is too much and we can’t handle it. We are labelled as people who are rude. That is not true; it is the workload,” said Dlomo.
“We won’t vote unless they employ our colleagues who are without jobs,” said Sizakele Mhlongo.
Bongani Nzimande from the office of the Premier accepted the memorandum. He did not address the nurses.
Spokesperson for the health department Ncumisa Mafunda said the department was looking into the issues raised by the nurses.
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