National Health And Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) members have suspended a strike at the National Health Laboratory Service (NHLS)‚ pending the finalisation of a settlement agreement. However‚ the Public Servants Association (PSA)‚ which represents professionals in the service‚ said its members would remain on strike.
The strike has crippled the service‚ which provides laboratory and related public health services to more than 80% of the population through a national network of laboratories.
NHLS has been using private laboratory services for emergency tests required by hospitals.
Nehawu spokesman Khaya Xaba said on Wednesday that the union consulted its members on Monday and Tuesday to get their views on the offer tabled by management. The offer includes a 7.3% salary increase; the employment by NHLS of workers involved in the gardening‚ cleaning and security services; and an increase in medical aid subsidies.
"Our members accepted the offer made by the employer during our consultation with them. We expect to sign an agreement with the employer on Friday‚" Xaba said.
However‚ Tahir Maepa, deputy GM of PSA, which represents 45% of the workforce, said the strike was still on from PSA’s side. "The majority of our members have rejected the offer. However‚ we are going to take part in a meeting this afternoon, which was called by the employer to resolve the impasse."
He said the offer by the employer did not resolve pertinent issues from previous agreements: "Our members believe there is no way we can retreat at this late stage."