Hospital  support  staff join strike

Hospital support staff join strike

MASERU-OPERATIONS at the Queen ’Mamohato Memorial Hospital, also known as Tšepong, has ground to a halt after supporting staff joined the nurses’ strike which has been dragging on for the past two weeks.
Chefs, receptionists, ward clerks and other support staff joined the strike on Monday.

This has completely crippled the referral hospital’s operations.
The nurses are complaining that their salaries are lower than those of their counterparts at other hospitals. They are also demanding improved working conditions.
The support staff have similar grievances.
Hlalefang Seoaholimo, the secretary general for the Lesotho Workers Association (LEWA), said the strike by the support staff has long been in the making.

“People should be aware that as we speak the ’Mamohato Hospital is not functional but crippled by the ongoing nurses’ strike,” Seoaholimo said.
He said at the root of the labour dispute is the Private-Public-Partnership (PPP) agreement between the government and Tšepong (Pty) Ltd.
Tšepong, which manages the hospital, is made up of local companies and Netcare.

Seoaholimo said it because of that agreement that workers at the hospital are poorly paid.
He said the government did “not pay close attention to the agreement it entered into with private companies that run the public hospital and now it does not know how to handle the workers’ problems”.
The workers at the hospital are not government employees despite the fact that they are working in a public institution built like any other hospital in the country.

So when the government increased salaries across the board throughout all health centres and hospitals countrywide those working at the ’Mamohato Hospital were not included.
“People should understand that we are not negotiating our salaries, we are demanding what is rightfully ours according to that agreement,” Seoaholimo said.
“The strike will only be stopped by the compliance of the government and Tšepong (the hospital).”

The Lesotho Nurses Association (LNA) secretary general, Malefane Tlali, said the hospital has exploited the nurses for a very long time.
Tlali said the hospital pays its nurses less than the government’s nurses working at either state or church-owned health facilities.
“We wrote several letters but to no avail,” Tlali said.

Tlali added that “now the nurses are fed up and do not want to listen to anything as the government has been playing tricks with them instead of fulfilling their promises”.

“They are not paid enough yet they are given this heavy burden,” he said.
Health Minister Semano Sekatle told the state-owned Radio Lesotho that he was already working on the grievances of the hospital workers.
Sekatle was appointed to the ministry last Wednesday, two days after the strike began.

Nkheli Liphoto

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