Home South African Numsa warns government not to blame booze for health care failures

Numsa warns government not to blame booze for health care failures

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Alcohol is not to blame for the shortage of hospital beds, the government is, says the country’s biggest trade union

File picture: Peter Nicholls / Reuters

THE NATIONAL Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) has called on the government not to use the alcohol ban to mask its failure to provide a functioning health care system.

“Alcohol is not to blame for shortages of hospital beds, the government is,” the country’s biggest trade union said in a statement on Wednesday.

According to Numsa, the decision to reduce costs on primary health and health care services was behind the current state of affairs, where there are not enough facilities to adequately treat the deadly coronavirus.

The union likened President Cyril Ramaphosa’s speech reinstating the alcohol ban to pandering to stereotypical racist demonisations of Africans.

“To make matters worse, they unilaterally banned alcohol, with no regard whatsoever for how this will impact on workers in the sector. They have made no plans for workers to receive salaries or some kind of income whilst the ban is in place,” Numsa said, adding that workers in the sector were facing an uphill battle with the government’s temporary employee relief scheme ending.

It also expressed its concerns about the persistent problems in hospitals across the country, including massive shortages of staff, protective gear, medication and facilities.

“For 26 years the ANC government has refused to uproot the racial distribution of economic and social opportunities in this country, thereby condemning the vast majority of the population – which is African and black – to a life of drug and alcohol abuse, and extreme violent crime including rape and gender-based violence,” Numsa said.

The union is now demanding that all private hospitals and health care providers be nationalised.

Numsa believes this will ensure that everyone has access to treatment for Covid-19 and called for testing for the coronavirus to be free.

According to Numsa, employers failing to ensure safe working environments must face stiff penalties for transgressions, while workplaces must be shut down and deep-cleaned if employees test positive, with those under quarantine or in self-isolation being paid in full.