EMS staff down tools

The Rep - - FRONT PAGE - ABONGILE SOLUNDWANA

Mem­bers of the Chris Hani Emer­gency Med­i­cal Ser­vices (EMS) have joined in a strike in­volv­ing their col­leagues through­out the Eastern Cape.

The Chris Hani EMS work­ers went on strike on Mon­day, de­mand­ing the pay­ment of over­time which they say the health depart­ment has been promis­ing since 2003.

A group protested out­side the Ko­mani Hos­pi­tal premises.

South African Emer­gency Per­son­nel Union (SAEPU) pro­vin­cial chair Michael Mvontshi said the strike fol­lowed af­ter the depart­ment’s su­per­in­ten­dent-gen­eral Tho­bile Mben­gashe failed to ar­rive at a re­cent union meet­ing.

Mvontshi said the unions of SAEPU, Ne­hawu, Horspersa and the Pub­lic Ser­vice As­so­ci­a­tion met with the head of depart­ment to high­light griev­ances.

On Fri­day, work­ers met at the EMS of­fices at Ko­mani Hos­pi­tal to speak about the way for­ward and the ac­tion to be taken to en­sure that the depart­ment ad­dressed their con­cerns. “We work 12 hours from 7am un­til 7pm and we want our pay­ment. We wanted to sit with the depart­ment and come up with a so­lu­tion con­cern­ing the mat­ter.”

He said health min­is­ter Aaron Mot­soaledi had agreed that the money should be paid to work­ers, but the prov­ince had not re­sponded.

He said the en­tire Chris Hani dis­trict had joined the strike.

The staff were also bat­tling a short­age of work­ers and ve­hi­cles while there were in­creased calls from the depart­ment to be pro­duc­tive.

Health MEC He­len Sauls-Au­gust said in a state­ment, “We are dis­ap­pointed that the work­ers have em­barked on an il­le­gal strike know­ing very well that they are em­ployed as es­sen­tial ser­vice em­ploy­ees and there­fore are not al­lowed to strike.

“The depart­ment will un­der­take in­ter­nal process [ sic] for on-duty em­ploy­ees in­volved in this il­le­gal strike.”

The pub­lic has been ad­vised to make use of the call cen­tre num­ber 0800-032-364 as emer­gency bases are not oper­a­tional.

De­part­men­tal spokesper­son Lwandile Sicwet­sha said ex­cess hours from 2015 to 2018 were be­ing pro­cessed and that the out­stand­ing pay­ment re­lated to the dis­pute be­tween 2003-2014. This mat­ter was still un­der dis­cus­sion be­tween the depart­ment and labour rep­re­sen­ta­tives.

“The MEC is ac­ti­vat­ing con­tin­gency plans to make emer­gency med­i­cal ser­vices avail­able to users dur­ing the il­le­gal strike by emer­gency ser­vice em­ploy­ees. The in­terim mea­sures in­clude the use of pri­vate am­bu­lances to re­spond to life-threat­en­ing, pri­or­ity cases un­til the sit­u­a­tion re­turns to nor­mal.”

He said it was not in the su­perindent’s am­bit of du­ties to be at the union meet­ing.

Sicwet­sha said the depart­ment’s top man­age­ment had met with the labour rep­re­sen­ta­tive on Mon­day. The out­come of the meet­ing is not yet known.

Pic­ture: ABONGILE SOLUNDWANA

NOT HAPPY: EMS staff protest near the Ko­mani Hos­pi­tal base

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