DA writes to Nehawu asking number of public servants requested to take leave for ANC election campaign
Mike Waters, DA Spokesperson on Health
23 March 2009
The Democratic Alliance (DA) has written to the National Education, Health and Allied Workers' Union (Nehawu) asking it to declare how many public service workers it has pulled out of their public sector jobs in order to help the ANC run its election campaign.
It was reported this week that on 16 February Nehawu asked the Free State Head ofHealth to grant paid leave for 160 health workers so they could campaign for the ANC. This request was made despite the fact that the province is facing a catastrophic health crisis, including a high vacancy rate for doctors and nurses, which has forced hospitals to cancel any operations that aren't emergencies.
Nehawu has a comprehensive election campaign in place and the DA believes that if it has asked the Free State department to make its staff members available, it will have made similar requests to other departments and government entities across the entire public service. If patients die and if our Matric pass rate falls yet again because health workers and teachers who should have been doing their jobs were doing political campaigning, then the responsibility will fall directly onto Nehawu.
The DA has written to Nehawu asking to inform us as to:
How many public service employees across the country it has requested be released for political campaigning,
How many of these requests were granted,
Whether the state of service delivery in that particular province or area was taken into account when the request was made,
And whether this leave is additional to the leave days that are contractually provided for.
It is not clear whether the leave that Nehawu is asking for is part of the normal leave entitlement, or additional to this, but leave-taking by teachers during term-time is strictly limited.
In addition, given the staff shortages faced by health facilities across the country and the massive national shortage of social workers, it is hard to justify allowing a large number of critical workers to take leave at the same time - the effect on service delivery can only be detrimental.