After almost two weeks of embarking on a passive protest by not wearing the torn uniform in demand of payment of Uniform Allowance that should have been paid in April this year, the Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa (DENOSA) in KwaZulu-Natal is relieved that nurses in public hospitals in the province were finally paid their uniform allowance on Thursday 20 July 2017 although a quarter of a year later!
DENOSA implemented the resolutions of the provincial chamber on 10 July, which declared that nurses won’t wear any uniform if they are not paid by the 10th of July 2017 by the employer. DENOSA provincial office sent a courtesy letter to the provincial department on 5 July, informing it of DENOSA’s intention to instruct nurses not to wear uniform on the 10th of July if they are not paid Uniform Allowance, which was way long overdue already. On 10 July, nurses led by DENOSA shop stewards came to work on time, and had their identification and put their distinguishing devices on casual clothing as they could no longer wear the torn uniform.
“DENOSA at the provincial bargaining chamber meeting in February urged the Department of Health in the province to ensure that payment of Uniform Allowance does not get delayed this year as it had been the case over the last three years,” explains DENOSA Provincial Organiser in KwaZulu-Natal, Mandla Shabangu. “But April came and went by without any movement and without any explanation as to what the cause of the delay was. In June in our bargaining meeting in the province, we demanded answers from the Department as to what the cause of the delay was, but still we could not get any satisfactorily answer. It was in that meeting at the chamber that we gave the Department an ultimatum to pay nurses Uniform Allowance before 10 July, or face a revolt from nurses.”
Nurses heeded the call by DENOSA and supported the cause. More and more nurses joined in. Initially the Department said nurses were to be paid by end of July. DENOSA’s response to that was that nurses will continue not to wear their uniform until Uniform Allowance is paid then. It took some pushing from the higher office in the province to get nurses to be paid their Uniform Allowance on 20 July, something that DENOSA does believe it should have dragged that long before if nurses are respected and appreciated as the frontline workforce in the healthcare.
Some nurses were charged by their employers at institutions for not wearing uniform, as if the Department had paid them Uniform Allowance already. “We are currently dealing with those cases as the union. Some nurses were given written warnings while others were charged. We also call on other DENOSA members to alert DENOSA about their letters of warnings and charges so that we could deal with those. It was an intimidation by the managers of institutions. Where were they going to find money to buy uniform when the Department had failed to honour its responsibility? Where do they get the courage to charge nurses for not wearing uniform whereas they are not paid? It’s clear sign of abuse of power and super exploitation of workers which DENOSA will not tolerate. What baffles us is that institutions are charging nurses over a provincial matter. But we will deal with each and every one of those,” adds Shabangu.
DENOSA calls on nurses to contact the provincial office immediately on 031 305 1417 if they have been issued with either warnings of charges. DENOSA also urges nurses not to make any statement without a union representative.
Issued by the Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa (DENOSA) in KwaZulu-Natal
For more information, contact:
Mandla Shabangu, DENOSA Provincial Organiser in KwaZulu-Natal
Mobile: 071 643 3369
Tel: 031 305 1417