Bills

NHLS lab strike see bills pile up for outsourced work


Striking NHLS workers suspended their strike on Tuesday afternoon pending the finalisation of an agreement of a 7.3% salary increase.


Workers at the National Health Laboratory Service downed tools over labour-related issues on 26 July 2017. Picture: Kgothatso Mogale/EWN

JOHANNESBURG – The National Health Laboratory Service’s (NHLS) financial troubles are worsening with private laboratories now being owed millions of rands for picking up extra work during a five-day long wage strike.

The service’s acting CEO Shabir Madhi has taken Eyewitness News on a site visit at a laboratory in Soweto, which has been hard hit by the industrial action.

Striking NHLS workers suspended their strike on Tuesday afternoon pending the finalisation of an agreement of a 7.3% salary increase.

The laboratory at Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital ground to a halt since last week Wednesday.

The facility services a total of 53 clinics in the area and usually processes more than 3,000 samples a day.

Madhi says work was outsourced and now the bills are piling up.

“[We] don’t have a complete idea in terms of the number of tests submitted to the private sector, totals run in the millions in terms of costs of doing the laboratory tests itself.”

Business manager for the NHLS at the hospital, Bongiwe Xhakaza, says although that workers are expected back at work on Wednesday morning, the backlog will take a long time to clear.

“The private lab that we sent our work to had challenges of backlogs because our work was too much.”

Containers filled with sealed samples sit stacked at the laboratory waiting to be analysed.

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