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LNC condemns “illegal” QMMH strike

 

Limpho Sello

THE Lesotho Nursing Council (LNC) has condemned Queen ‘Mamohato Memorial Hospital (QMMH) nursing staff for embarking on what it says is an illegal strike.

QMMH nurses and nursing assistants have been on strike since 1 February 2021 to press the government to award them salary increments to match their counterparts in other government and private institutions.

There is no agreement in sight despite a series of talks involving all stakeholders, namely the nurses, QMMH management and Health Minister Semano Sekatle.

The strike enters is fourth week tomorrow. While the nurses have received support from the Lesotho Nurses Association (LNA), the LNC is however, far from pleased with what it views as the “unethical and unprofessional” conduct of the nurses.

Addressing a weekend press conference, LNC Registrar Flavia Poka accused the nurses of embarking on an illegal strike which had put the lives of the patients at risk.

“The LNC condemns unethical and unprofessional behaviour of the nurses, midwives and nursing assistants who are participating in an unlawful industrial action which has put the lives of patients at risk.

“Such unethical behaviour cannot be tolerated by the LNC as it tarnishes the image of the nursing and midwifery professions in Lesotho,” said Ms Poka whose organisation’s

She said while they were not against nurses fighting for their rights, they had to follow the right procedures of presenting their grievances and engaging in consultations with the authorities to amicably solve issues and avoid putting the lives of patients at risk.

“The LNC recognises the rights of all employees to complain about unfair working conditions and socioeconomic factors as supported by the International Labour Organisation (ILO). However, it is paramount that that in pursuit of these rights, there should be guidance and awareness of each parties’ responsibilities.

“The LNC rather urges the concerned nursing and midwifery personnel to allow themselves to be guided accordingly through all steps of tabling grievances in accordance with local, regional and international guidance on industrial action,” Ms Poka said.

However, she did not explain what further steps the nurses could have taken as they claim they have consistently tabled their salary grievances before successive governments for close to a decade without any success.

Even now, the nurses only went on strike after the health ministry’s failure to address their grievances by the 27 January 2021 deadline they had given the government.

QMMH nurses say they have not been awarded any increments since 2012 when the government and the Christian Health Association of Lesotho (CHAL) increased the salaries of nurses at other institutions. (See story above).

Meanwhile, Ms Poka said her organisation will begin investigations to establish the impact of the strike on patients’ welfare. She said they would compile a report after the probe.

On his part, LNA president Raphael Tlali said they would press ahead with the fight for the nurses’ rights in spite of the “very disappointing” LNC’s stance condemning the strike.

The LNC is a quasi-government organisation with a mandate is to regulate nursing and midwifery in Lesotho. The LNA is a trade union which represents nurses’ interests.

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