The Nurses Strike

– Lets Challenge This!

As a nurse working in Helen Joseph, I feel I have full authority to comment on these proceedings. the following is my understanding of what is occurring, and where I view the problems to be.

Politically, I do not have the complete story. Nurses are asking for an 8.6% wage increase and R1000 housing allowance, and the government is willing to give 6.8/7% increase.

Lets be honest here: The law forbids nurses and doctors from striking. While I agree that the wage increase IS necessary – the manner in which we are displaying our demands is with full contempt for the law. I don’t agree with it!

We get paid shit. No wonder we all get out degrees and leave to another country whereby in London for example we can get paid R300 per hour. Here we average on around R31 per hour. Anyone see the difference?

As for the housing allowance – yes, we do need it BUT (and this is a very big but): most people are not even RECEIVING their housing allowance so how can they say they are going to raise it when we are not even getting it? I have not seen one cent of it since LAST year January. So forgive me, but really! Make a plan to get it to everyone while you increase it!!

So, the govt says that we have no funds? Yeah – the reason we have no funds you twats is because there is corruption within the Health Department!! Pay for this – pay for that, but when we need you to pay US, then eish, we have no money. Please, I dont want to hear such rubbish. They say the increase we are demanding will cost the government R5 million, but I believe they should have been budgeting for this long before. Make a plan. You have wasted money that we DESERVE to get paid: we are on our feet for 12 hours a day, looking after patients with the most terrible wounds and inflictions that we have ever seen, we grin and bear it, we don’t see our families because we are too busy saving yours, and you want to pay us a MEASLY R31 an hour?? At the end of 5 years I want to be able to say: yes, I can afford a house and look after kids, but truth of the matter is that I will never be able to do so. I simply don’t earn enough.

I don’t understand why nursing in other countries is one of the careers that they hold close to their hearts, and here we are looked down upon and simply treated like dirt. This has made us terribly bitter, and in turn we have a negative environment (well, esp in public hospitals) where we treat our patients with disrespect and dare I say it but sub-human. I am not impressed with our standards of nursing and government should be fixing this too. I am ashamed of the beasts I work with, and I by no means intend to glorify myself because I always take the time for my patients and advocate for them (had a tiff with one of the people last week and I won that round, silly cow!), but I cannot work to my full extent because very few are willing to teach me. I am disgusted!

– Today We Are Not Completing Our Mission

Regarding the actual strike this is what I have heard and seen (may not necessarily be accurate):

– Last night, men came into the wards and told the sisters to “get out”. They had sticks/some objects with them, and I am sure they would have beaten them up if they would not leave.
– The gates were barricaded and closed shut this morning, so those who want to work were turned away. No one is allowed to enter and barely anyone is allowed to leave.
– They started off protesting by simply singing and dancing.
– This is also occurring at Raheema Moosa/Coronation Hospital
– Police are there, and traffic is at a standstill at times
– I recently heard they had broken through the gates and stormed into the hospital, removing patients from the wards. They are becoming vicious now.
– I hear the cops are spraying people with water – is this going to get to the point where rubber bullets are necessary?
– My brother tweeted this: The protest at HJH is tense as police clash with striking health workers

I wonder what is going to happen next.

As a nurse I am completely MORTIFIED at what these people are doing. How can they not remain loyal to their patients?! They are leaving them to die with no treatment or food! And if they die are these people going to be tried for murder since it is, isn’t it? I mean as nurses we don’t work for money, we work for the love of our job and caring for others, but the govt also needs to understand that we need to get paid enough to support our families. There is wrongdoing on both sides, and this indefinite strike better end sooner rather than later or all will be lost, most importantly patient’s lives. The hospitals are a war zone at the moment.

A friend of mine (also a nurse posted this): “Viva for our salary increase and housing increas BUT not when my patients have to suffer.
it sucks! im PROUD to be a nurse now we have to be scared to wear our uniforms. . . . .”

And another this: I’ve always been proud to be a nurse, but never thought I would be afraid to wear my nursing uniform..

And they are right – I am scared to wear my uniform too!

A paramedic wrote this: Help teach kids how the government works by simply taking all their sweets and telling them to get lost. – What do you think??

I think I am very angry in this post…. I should probably refine it. But – I am venting. Maybe not politically correct, but hey. Not meaning to sound racist at all, but when we had a white govt we were treated with respect and paid our worth (as told to me by a nurse from THOSE days).

Where have our past values disappeared to?

To the Patients: (well, if you’re not dead by now)

Please comment! Lets hear the different sides!!


6 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Schae on August 19, 2010 at 21:27

    You had me till your last part about the white government.
    whenever someone prefaces something with “not to sound racist” – you must know for sure that the next words out their mouths/fingers WILL be racist.
    under the white govt. YOU may have been treated with respect, but the millions and millions of people in this country (i.e the majority black) were NOT treated with any respect. gosh.


    • I apologize, but I was not born to the Apartheid era. It had nothing to do with reference to skin colour but the actual respect of nurses. Although I also suppose that money was different at that time. My parents showed me a cheque for petrol for r40. As well as that, where have past values gone to? This is what I am concerned about. We are having “brain drain” because I and others want to leave asap. This is perhaps the largest reason why SA will not be able to easily improve. A wage increase will be a start, but I do reiterate that I do not agree with the manner in which they are striking.

      Thank you very much for your comment! Its great to hear feedback and I apologize if I have offended. I should have perhaps explained it better in my post!



  2. Glad you haven’t backed down, and are helping out 🙂
    wish I had the time, or else I would too


    • There are other ways of helping out 🙂 If you want to donate some toiletries or food or whatever to the wards you’re more than welcome to! Every little thing is appreciated! We only need to take the first step in making a good difference in someone’s life 🙂


  3. Posted by tanya on August 25, 2010 at 13:36

    Wow! Wat a super read!! Being in a hospital now + needing nurses help has really opened my eyes. Some hv really been angels thru my meningitis! 2 young ones couldn’t b bothered 2 help me @ all. I would hv a break down if these nurses went on strike!! I could die. I camt believe in this strike that babies are dying! WTF! They r innocent angels!! I agree the govt should hv budgeted 4 salary increases + nurses + drs are invaluable! I don’t agree with violent strikes + protests. Things really need 2 get sorted out soon + in a civil manner. Thx 4 this post 2d 🙂


  4. Posted by #TheBoyfried on August 26, 2010 at 07:38

    Firstly the thing about the white government is not racist at all cos it is the truth as I told cybelle about it and it was a black nurse I was working with that told me this.
    Secondly this strike is has now become ridiculous as people are now dying and as a paramedic I have been working close to 15hr day to cover for the nurses at hospitals.
    The nurses need to act like grown-ups now and stop throwing a fit like a 5year old and be professionals and get back to work.


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