About 5000 National Health Laboratory Service (NHLS) workers across the country downed tools and picketed outside the NHLS offices on Wednesday after wage negotiations with the employer failed.
The NHLS provides laboratory services to all healthcare service providers.
National Education‚ Health and Allied Workers’ Union spokesman Khaya Xaba said the strike would result in patients waiting longer for diagnostic tests.
Xaba said its more than 5000 members at NHLS had embarked on an indefinite strike to push management to agree with their demands.
NHLS has 6700 members spread across laboratories in the nine provinces.
Nehawu’s demands include a salary adjustment of 7.3%‚ a housing allowance of R2000 per month and a shift allowance of R50‚ or 45% of their hourly rate – whichever is the greater.
Xaba said these demands were submitted to the NHLS on February 24 to ensure that workers receive the salary increases by April 1.
The unions at NHLS declared a dispute when negotiations deadlocked.
The unions referred the matter to the Commission for Conciliation‚ Mediation and Arbitration for facilitation.
The conciliation processes failed and the union decided to serve employers with a notice to strike last week.
Xaba said the last meeting Nehawu had with management was on Monday and there were no planned meetings with management.
Ernest Mabuza – TimesLIVE