South Africa’s largest union for public sector workers continued to protest outside several hospitals across the country on Monday.
The protest, attended by members of the health and education unions, is now entering its second week and law enforcement are stepping up surveillance of the rallies.
The National Union of Education, Health and Related Workers is asking for a 10 percent pay rise, while the government has offered a 4.7 percent increase. The protesters have vowed to intensify their movements until their demands are met.
South African Defense Force personnel have also been deployed to the Thiel Moguiran Regional Hospital in Vaslorus, east of Johannesburg.
According to the military, medical teams have been dispatched to several public hospitals in an effort to mitigate the effects of the strike, which the government says has claimed many lives.
“We have received a request from the Health Minister to help contain the ongoing strike and ensure services are running with minimal disruption,” South African Army Health Service spokesman Philip Makobo told AFP.
“Military medics were dispatched to hospitals on Wednesday” and “will remain there as needed,” he said.
South African Health Minister Jo Phalla said at least four patients had died and their deaths “can be directly attributed to the attack.
Last week, strikers were denied access to several hospitals and patients were denied access.
On Monday morning, AFP reporters saw four soldiers stationed near Thiel Moguiran Hospital in south-east Johannesburg as police officers patrolled the entrance.
The strike, affecting many public hospitals, began a week ago by halting the work of nursing and maintenance staff and demanding a 10 percent increase in their salaries, while the government agreed to an increase of just 4.7 percent.
On Monday, the judiciary decided to stop the movement, but the strikers continue to monitor the strike.