Trade union National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) says it gave the government ample time to implement a contingency plan before a strike by social workers in Gauteng which has now resulted in the death of a six-month-old baby girl.
Nehawu has refused to take sole responsibility for the baby girl’s death, saying the incident wouldn’t have occurred if there was no strike.
On Friday, the department transferred 90 children from government facilities to NGOs due to the strike.
The baby girl and her siblings were moved from the Walter Sisulu Child and Youth Care Centre in Soweto on Friday after a section of the facility was torched, allegedly by striking social workers.
It’s understood the children weren’t receiving food and medicine due to the industrial action, as strikers allegedly prevented food and medicine from being handed to the children.
Nehawu’s spokesperson Khaya Xulu says the department should have made alternative plans in February when they learnt about the strike.
“The department knew as of 10 February that there was going to be a strike, so they were supposed to put measures in place to ensure such [an] incident doesn’t happen so that they have other mechanism to deal with the impact of the strike. Blame can’t be put squarely on Nehawu.”