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Tšepong staffers to strike

‘Mapati Makoanyane

Employees of the Queen Mamohato Memorial Hospital, commonly known as Tšepong have planned to down tools, Newsday was told.

The general secretary of Lesotho Workers Association (LEWA) Hlalefang Seoaholima indicated that his trade union is yet to meet with the Hospital staff to propose a strike on a date yet to be confirmed.

He said they are also set to meet the hospital management today. (Wednesday July 29 2019).

Seoaholimo noted that their strike plan is driven by the government’s failure to address their grievances adding that the industrial action is meant to mount pressure on the government which has “ignored an agreement inked by LEWA and the concerned hospital’s staff.”

“We signed an agreement with the Deputy Health Minister (Manthabiseng Phohleli) but she has since been mum about trying or even attempting to solve our problems, so we have decided to stage a protest,” he said.

Speaking to Newsday Seoaholima said they planned the strike as the government has failed to honour their agreement, encapsulating a number of issues, including those that cover salary increments.

“The level of payment for employees of the hospital is way below living standards, while there is also shortage of nurses, demonstrable by palpable fatigue among the nursing staff, and the rest of the hospital staff.”  

He indicated that the hospital is experiencing shortage of nurses and doctors which impacts quality service provision.

“The nurses and doctors are unable to meet their targets due to the imbalances in the doctor/patient and nurse/patient ratios. The medical staff is literally overwhelmed,” he added.

He revealed that the Union met with the Health, Finance and Labour ministers on May 5 at the Parliament Premises to talk about their issues and also inviting their intervention. However, the hospital was not represented.

He further said on May 9, the hospital was then represented and “we were told that our issues were currently before cabinet and would be resolved soonest. But to this day all parties are mum.”

He added, “When we observed this attitude from our government we decided to further our letters of demand, which were delivered to all parties that were represented at the meeting and copied the chairman of cabinet, but to this day none of those offices have bothered to respond to our letters so a strike is the only way that our seriousness will be seen.”

He noted that they would issue a date in a week following their meeting with other sectors.

“We are going to lobby other sectors including the textile sector to join this protest because we all have the same plight of low salary payments which are not equivalent to the amount of work we do. We want the march to be inclusive of all sectors which will be a sign that they are in solidarity with us,” he said noting they are set to meet with members of Netcare South Africa.

Meanwhile Queen Mamohato Memorial Hospital spokesperson Mothepane Thahane indicated the hospital was not aware of the planned strike.

“We are not aware of such a thing, however, we will wait for formal communication from LEWA concerning their plans,” she said.

When contacted to comment Health Deputy Minister, Phohleli noted she was in a meeting but her phone later rang unanswered

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