Democratic Nursing Organisation of SA (Denosa) members protested outside the district office of the department of health in Parsons Hill. Picture: SUPPLIED
Democratic Nursing Organisation of SA (Denosa) members protested outside the district office of the department of health in Parsons Hill. Picture: SUPPLIED

The Democratic Nursing Organisation of SA (Denosa), SA’s largest nursing union, has welcomed President Cyril Ramaphosa’s announcement declaring Covid-19 a national disaster and the travel ban on high-risk countries.

On Sunday, Ramaphosa announced sweeping measures to contain the spread of disease, including travel restrictions on foreigners from hard-hit countries, a ban on mass gatherings of more than 100 people, and the closure of schools.

Denosa communications manager Sibongiseni Delihlazo called on the government to provide clean water to all communities and health facilities, noting that some clinics in the North West and KwaZulu-Natal do not have running water.

This poses a serious threat to the management and control of the coronavirus “because at the core of its management is cleanliness”, he said.

Denosa also called on the government to provide sufficient protective equipment.

Delihlazo said ahead of the expected rapid rise in the number of patients: “Denosa reiterates its call that staff numbers must be beefed up to ensure that health workers are able to handle the large number of patients.”

It expressed concern that overcrowding at government health-care facilities is “posing a serious infection risk”.

The National Education, Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu) said it would strike on March 30 against plans by the government to cut the public sector wage bill by more than R160bn over the next three years.

The government has indicated it cannot afford to implement the last leg of the wage agreement signed at the Public Sector Co-ordinating Bargaining Council in 2018.

Renegotiating the third year of the wage agreement is projected to cut R37.8bn from the wage bill, or just 1.5% in real terms, in 2020. In the  existing agreement, workers would receive an increase of consumer price inflation (CPI) plus 1%, and notch  increments  of about 1%.

Nehawu general secretary Zola Saphetha said on Sunday: “As far Nehawu is concerned, our members and public service workers expect government to implement the agreement to the letter [that is] across the board adjustment to the cost of living by CPI plus 1% for salary level one to seven and CPI plus 0.5% for salary level eight to 10.”

He said no trade union should consider entering into a discussion “to worsen the terms and conditions of work of its members and the working class in general. It is simply unrealistic on the part of government to even contemplate this.

“As things stand, we are continuing with our plans to embark on a national day of action on March 30,” Nehawu national spokesperson Khaya Xaba said on Monday.

Meanwhile, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), which was scheduled to embark on a march to ANC headquarters Luthuli House on Friday, has called off the march, describing the move as a precautionary measure to try to prevent Covid-19 from spreading.

The NUM march was billed as a protest against the unbundling of Eskom into three units responsible for generation, transmission and distributionc the independent power producers; and against retrenchments in the mining, energy and construction sectors.

“There shall be no mass meetings or shaft/shop steward council meetings until the ban on meetings has been lifted by the state president” said NUM president Joseph Montisetse on Monday.

The African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) said on Monday it welcomed the “extraordinary emergency measures” announced by the president.

“We support calls to prohibit gatherings of more than a 100 people. At places where this may be more challenging, for instance, such as at public transport terminals, work places, and at churches, we encourage all South Africans to adhere to the guidelines provided by government,” the ACDP said.

“It would encourage government to put screening mechanisms in place at public transport terminals where volumes are high such as in poor and working-class areas. In addition, the ACDP calls for increased prayer throughout the nation.”

mkentanel@businesslive.co.za