Johannesburg - Gauteng premier Nomvula Mokonyane and Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi must intervene in the closure of the Chris Hani Baragwanath Nursing College, the IFP said on Wednesday.
“We are already facing a challenge of filling many vacant nursing posts. This strike must not be allowed to add to this problem and must therefore be resolved urgently,” Inkatha Freedom Party MP Hilda Msweli said.
File image of protesting student nurses. Picture: Leon Mulle. Credit: INLSA
The Gauteng health department on Wednesday announced an indefinite closure of the college following a week-long illegal protest and class disruptions by students, who wanted three heads of department (HODs) removed.
Health MEC Hope Papo ordered students to vacate the college by Wednesday afternoon.
“The students have also defied a court interdict compelling them to stop the protest and return to classes,” said Papo.
He said the department would address whatever legitimate grievances the students had. But it would not act unlawfully against any of its staff.
In 2011 students submitted grievances demanding the removal of the staff members, among others. Papo said the department had taken all reasonable steps to resolve the dispute, but the students remained adamant.
In 2011, the department instituted an investigation into the grievances.
The reporting lines of the HODs were temporarily changed, so that during the investigation they did not report to the college, he said. Investigators completed their report in February 2012. Meanwhile the HODs declared a dispute over the changing of their reporting lines.
Students protested and disrupted the functioning of the college.
Management then agreed that the HODs should go on special leave to allow the department to bring the situation back to normality.
Papo said a series of meetings was held with the student representative council to find a solution.
“The department even appointed a private mediator to assist the process of finding an amicable solution to the impasse. The students however refused to participate in the mediation process,” he said.
Strikes resumed on January 7 and the situation deteriorated, with students refusing to attend classes. - Sapa