MORE than 100 Eastern Cape College nursing graduates marched outside the provincial health department in Bhisho on Monday, demanding immediate employment.
The graduates were adamant that they were not going anywhere unless they received appointment letters from the department.
The protest comes after the nurses submitted a memorandum to the department during the beginning of November, with the department then reporting back to them on the issue.
“The meeting was very tense. The health officials showed no interest at all. They said they never guaranteed us employment, just the necessary skills.
“We were totally disrespected and they proved they do not care about us,” Unemployed Nurses Eastern Cape chairman, Thembinkosi Qwakanisa said.
One of the graduates, who did not want to be named, from Ntabankulu, a town in Alfred Nzo Municipality, said in order to be employed nurses had to “be connected”, have money to pay bribes or have connections within the department.
“This is sad because we have worked very hard to obtain these qualifications and today we are back at home babysitting our nursing degrees and diplomas,” she said.
The protesting graduates reiterated that it was unfair they were without jobs yet some health facilities were short-staffed and patients were left unattended because there were not enough nurses to do the work.
They also expressed their disappointment at the health department for promising them jobs and later going back on their word.
“When I enrolled for my nursing diploma at Lilitha Nursing College years ago, I was so sure that I would get a job once I graduated but it was not the case.
“I am still without a job and that is stressful and depressing. I should be feeding my family and not the other way around,” graduate Yonela Mkhazini said.
Qwakanisa said the department informed them that it had to follow an annual recruitment plan and could not appoint people as it pleased.
“We are aware that there are vacant posts that need to be filled in government hospitals.
“Nurses retire yearly but the department does not bother to close those gaps,” Qwakanisa said.
The unemployed nurses gave the department seven days to respond to their grievances, which included:
- The unemployment of nurses trained from 2011 to date;
- Advertised posts that are subsequently withdrawn;
- The department must stop advertising posts when it has already decided who it will employ;
- Nepotism within the department; and
- Bribery having to be used to get posts.
The health department had not responded to queries for comment at the time of going to print.