The Gauteng department of health has handed two-month suspensions and final written warnings to 40 employees of the Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic Hospital who vandalised the facility during an illegal strike in 2018.
General workers and some nurses protested at the hospital demanding bonuses from the Gauteng health department. The protest saw the hospital’s services completely disrupted.
Incoming patients were turned away and those who were already in the hospital were left stranded. They claimed protesting staff had threatened them.
During the illegal industrial action, the protesting staff proceeded to throw refuse bags in the hospital foyer, disrupting hospital services and vandalising some parts of the building.
Through video footage, the facility was able to identify 45 employees who were part of the strike. They were subsequently charged “for embarking on an unprocedural, unprotected and/or unlawful industrial action”, Gauteng MEC for health spokesperson Kwara Kekana said on Thursday.
“Of the 45 employees, 40 were found guilty by the presiding officer and were given two months suspension without pay and a final written warning.
“The disciplinary hearing is still ongoing concerning the other five employees and the hospital anticipates completing that process by end of May.”
In October last year, the SA Human Rights Commission said the actions of staff at the hospital were tantamount to a human rights violation, as they denied a considerable number of patients the right to access healthcare services.
At the time, the commission directed the department, the hospital workforce and labour structures to undertake a joint programme of reconciliation to create a more conducive environment for communication and problem solving.
It also directed the health department to create guidelines for future protest-related disruptions to healthcare services.
National Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) was also directed to provide a report to the commission on the outcomes of its undertaking to train shop stewards and sensitise its members to their burden of care when dealing with legitimate grievances.