FURIOUS workers threatened yesterday to cripple Nelson Mandela Bay‘s health services following a heavy-handed directive from the provincial department saying they had been demoted and their salaries would be cut by more than half.
About 100 workers embarked on a protest march against the demotions yesterday – the second protest this week. The department has also told workers they must pay back the increase they received when they were irregularly promoted last year.
At yesterday‘s march, which started at Livingstone Hospital, workers held placards saying: “The department of health is equal to the department of death”, “We deny any debt with the department” and “Siva you have declared war and we will retaliate,” referring to the superintendent general of the department, Dr Siva Pillay.
Angry workers sang freedom songs and chanted “Down with corrupt officials” and “We have had enough of this department”.
The Health and Other Services Personnel Trade Union of South Africa (Hospersa), the National Health and Allied Workers‘ Union (Nehawu), the Public Servants‘ Association (PSA) and the Public and Allied Workers‘ Union of South Africa (Pawusa) have banded together to fight the department. During the march, union representatives told members their attorneys would be seeking an urgent court interdict against the department, which they hoped would prohibit it from deducting the money.
Port Elizabeth Hospitals Complex acting chief executive officer Solly Pretorious received a memorandum on behalf of the department. In it, workers expressed their dismay at the situation and the department‘s reluctance to meet them about the issue. They also accused the department of being cruel.
Nehawu regional deputy chairman Lizo Vakala said if the department did not respond within seven days, there would be more action and the department would be brought to its knees.
Department spokesman Siyanda Manana said they would engage with the unions to ensure a fair outcome.
“Each and every case will be evaluated on an individual basis. The salary deductions have been placed on hold until the process of consultation with the unions and the workers is brought to finality,” said Manana.