In a letter addressed to Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi trade union Solidarity today cautioned the department to comply with its statutory duty to place nurses for their community service year. If the department fails to or does not want to meet the obligation then they should exempt nurses from their community service year.
This comes after Solidarity had received several complaints from candidate nurses who have not been placed yet. According to Anton van der Bijl, head of Solidarity’s Centre for Fair Labour Practices, the fact that the placement process has become so dragged out is proof of the department’s incompetence to make the placements. “What is particularly disturbing is that this is the very department that has, on many an occasion, pointed out that it was experiencing skills shortages on the ground, yet the placement of qualified nurses is not their first priority,” Van der Bijl said.
One such example is that of Inidri Swanepoel whose placement has still not been finalised. Van der Bijl pointed out that Swanepoel is recently married and obviously she does not want to have to relocate to a place of work without her husband– that is why she had applied to three hospitals in Gauteng. She has however been notified that she might be placed in Mahikeng, more than 350 km from her home. “How the department could possibly justify such a placement at any level is shocking. The department seems to make unilateral discriminatory placements without regard to a person’s personal circumstances,” Van der Bijl said.
The Department was given the opportunity to finalise the placements as soon as possible or to exempt the candidate nurses from this obligation. “Should the Department not heed the warning Solidarity would not hesitate to resort to litigation,” Van der Bijl cautioned.
Health practitioners who are experiencing problems with their community service placement can report their complaint to firstname.lastname@example.org to be included in a collective process to force the department to meet its statutory obligations.