JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - South African nurses are wearing pajamas and nighties to work to demand a higher uniform allowance, drawing criticism from health officials who say they are confusing patients and turning hospitals into bedrooms.
The protest in South Africa's North West province began on Monday and nurses vowed to continue wearing pajamas to work until their demands were met, the national SAPA news agency said Wednesday.
"This campaign is the only way we can exercise our rights," Itumeleng Molaplhegi, provincial shop steward for the Democratic Nurses Organization of South Africa, told SAPA.
Protesting nurses said their uniform allowance was inadequate, citing a yearly figure of 54 rand ($9) for shoes.
SAPA said Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang had promised steps to raise the uniform allowance were being looked at, but that she regarded the protest as premature.
Other health officials said the protest was a potential security problem as it made it difficult to distinguish between patients and nurses, meaning anyone could walk into the hospitals pretending to be a nurse, SAPA said.
Barba Gaoganediwe, spokesman for the North West health department, said the protest was "confusing patients and turning our facilities into bedrooms."