Original Research

Strike action by nurses in South Africa: A value clarification

Marie Muller
Curationis | Vol 24, No 4 | a884 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/curationis.v24i4.884 | © 2001 Marie Muller | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 28 September 2001 | Published: 28 September 2001

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Marie Muller, Rand Afrikaans University, South Africa

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The Labour Relations Act (South Africa, 1991) made provision for protected strike action by employees, subject to certain conditions, procedures and negotiated agreements. This led to the removal of the strike clause in the Nursing Act (South Africa, 1992). The labour rights of all citizens are entrenched in the Constitution of the country (South Africa, 1996). Participation in strike action by the nurse/ midwife, regardless of the legal requirements and specifications, does, however, pose an ethical question. It is therefore necessary to conduct a value clarification on strike action by nurses in South Africa. The purpose of this research is to explore and describe the perceived values of participants from an accessible population on this phenomenon. A qualitative, exploratory and descriptive research design was deployed. The perceived values of nurses on strike action were collected by means of an openended questionnaire/sketch. Over a period of three years a purposive and convenient sampling method was used, involving all the enrolled post basic nursing/midwifery students/ learners at a particular Nursing Education Institution. The justification of the sample was further enhanced by also collecting data on the participants’ age and provincial distribution location. Although a 63% sample realisation (of the accessible population) was achieved, this represents only 1,5% of the registered nursing/midwifery population in the country. A descriptive analysis of the participants’ age and provincial distribution was undertaken, as well as a content analysis of their perceived values on strike action. The mean age of the participants was 48 years, which could be attributed to the fact that most of them were enrolled for a post-basic Diploma in Community Nursing Science. Most of the responses (52,7%) were against strike action and 32,5% supported strike action by nurses as a constitutional and legal right. A fairly substantial number of participants (14,8%) expressed mixed views as to whether strike action by nurses is right or wrong. Some respondents (15,7%) also reflected confusion regarding the enactment of strike action and the removal of the strike clause from the nursing legislation. Although this study does not claim external validity due to inappropriate representation of the nursing profession, the nurse of today opposes strike action. It is recommended that the study be replicated at national level and that the values be entrenched and published in position papers of and by the regulatory and organised nursing profession.


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