Nehawu has threatened to take legal action against the Department of Health for “recklessly exposing” health and safety workers to the coronavirus.
THE NATIONAL Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) has threatened to take legal action against the Department of Health for “recklessly exposing” health and safety workers to the coronavirus.
Nehawu general secretary Zola Saphetha warned that should no appropriate steps be taken to protect workers and immediately provide them with protective gear and equipment by no later than Wednesday (April 1), they would approach the court for an urgent interdict.
“It is shocking and highly disappointing that members, including doctors, nurses, cleaners, ambulance and mortuary workers are, to date, highly exposed to occupational risks.
“They are forced to work without the necessary personal protective equipment (PPE) and sanitisers.”
He added that government had an obligation to protect workers while they were at the forefront of the fight against the coronavirus.
“The safety of our members is a non-debatable matter. We will fight until the bitter end to ensure that they are protected, at all material times.”
Saphetha stated that the union was consulting with its lawyers to lodge an urgent application against government, led by the Minister of Health.
“Nehawu has written to the Minister of Health, Dr Zwelini Mkhize, to demand that the Department of Health complies with the Occupational Health and Safety Act during the Covid-19 disaster.”
Saphetha indicated that government was lacking with regards to its emergency preparedness that was geared to prevent, reduce the risk and mitigate any danger related to the performance of their members’ duties.
“The national union has raised sharply the glaring weaknesses and inadequacies of the guidelines on the management of the coronavirus in the public service.”
He pointed out that the exposing workers to occupational danger was in direct contravention of the Occupational Health and Safety Act.
“Our members and workers have a right to life, as prescribed in the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa.”