Thousands of workers laid down tools at the National Health Laboratory Service (NHLS) on Wednesday as the National Education, Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu) took its members out on strike after failed wage negotiations. The action could dent health service delivery as the NHLS tests patients for AIDS, cancer, tuberculosis and other diseases. Unions initially demanded a 13% annual increase across the board, but the NHLS said it could offer only 3%. Unions dropped their demand to 7.3%, which the employer matched on the day the strike began. The offer is yet to be accepted by the unions. Acting CEO of the NHLS Shabir Madhi said the unions had not accepted the offer because they wanted immediate implementation of promotions after proficiency assessments and insourcing of security, cleaning and maintenance personnel who were contracted to external service providers. The Department of Health has offered to phase in insourcing from April 1 2018, subject to finalising an agreed mo...

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