South Africa: The KwaZulu-Natal Executive Council has called on law enforcement authorities not to tolerate acts of lawlessness and criminality in strikes that are not in keeping with the laws of the country and the Constitution.
The Provincial Executive Council, Chaired by Premier Nomusa Dube-Ncube, convened a special meeting yesterday evening to take stock of the impact of the public service strike on government services in the province.
The Provincial Government is extremely concerned and upset about the violence accompanied by intimidation and extensive damage to property caused in the name of striking workers. The Provincial Government has urged the police to adopt a no-nonsense approach to those who abuse the right to strike and engage in unlawful behaviour and violates the rights of the sick, the doctors and other law-abiding workers.
The Executive Council noted that there is a concrete offer that the government has put on the table, and the only platform that will resolve any impasse is the return to the negotiating table.
The government notes that the current strike has all the hallmarks of illegality and believes that there can be no justification for the distasteful events seen in the healthcare sector and other public facilities recently.
The Executive Council strongly condemns the cruel actions the illegal strike is inflicting on patients and ordinary citizens, as seen in the blockage of access to state buildings, including several hospitals, potentially endangering the lives of innocent patients.
From now henceforth government will no longer tolerate the atmosphere of fear, trespassing on-premises and forceful removal of staff from their work posts and denial of patients their rights to gain access to healthcare facilities. In KwaZulu-Natal, the most affected government departments and facilities are those at eThekwini, uMgungundlovu, uThukela and Ilembe districts.
Speaking on behalf of the Executive Council, Premier Nomusa Dube-Ncube said:
“We are extremely concerned at the level of destruction we are witnessing in some of our government buildings and facilities. It is clear that there are criminal elements in the manner that these protest actions are taking place. These actions do not only destabilise service delivery more especially in health care facilities but also undermine basic human rights by endangering the lives of innocent people.”
“No matter how genuine you believe your cause to be, disrupting the functioning of essential services and endangering people’s lives is something that can never be justified.”
“The grievances that the workers have must be resolved at the bargaining council. We, therefore, call upon law enforcement authorities to ensure that not a single person has the space and opportunity to break the law in the name of pursuing whatever ends. We cannot allow anarchy to reign.”
“We also call upon leaders of organised labour, with whom we actually have a very good working relationship, to rein in their members so that law and order prevail at all times.”
We now call for effective intervention and all parties to avoid the risk of undermining the very same collective bargaining processes set up to create industrial peace and resolve all disputes. Any unlawful behaviour will invite law enforcement agencies to step in and deal mercilessly with lawlessness.
The Executive Council appeals to parties to find one another in order to minimise the impact on communities and the delivery of much-needed services.