Ambulance drivers protest over pay

SIPHELELE NDZAMELA

 AMBULANCE drivers and support crew protested outside the Port Alfred Hospital last week, over salary disparities, overtime and lack of danger allowance.

The ambulance staff, who are employed by the provincial health department, carried placards listing their grievances and sang and danced. They said it was a peaceful picket, but it could turn into a full-blown strike if nothing was done.

One of the drivers, Xolisile Harmans, complained that new employees were getting paid more than long-term staff, and employees that have been serving longer, were not even getting a salary increase.

DEMANDING CHANGE: Ambulance staff picketed outsdie the Port Alfred Hospital last week in an attempt to bring their grievances to the attention of the provincial health department Picture: SIPHELELE NDZAMELA

Harmans said staff did not receive danger allowance.

“We are exposed to all types of danger here,” he said.

He said according to information received from the bargaining council it was agreed that this would be resolved as long ago as 2005, but it has not.

Protestors demanded consistency on overtime payments, saying staff who had worked overtime must be paid for their overtime the following month.

They claimed some of their colleagues were still owed overtime payments dating back to December last year.

Another major issue the protestors are concerned about, is the replacement of staff, as two of their colleagues have resigned and two have died. There has been no attempt to replace them, Harmans said.

“We are operating on a skeleton staff and expected to do 100% service delivery,” he added.

Mbulelo Gongqa, a representative of the National Education, Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu), said: “We do not want to cause disruption in the hospital as a result of the members that are protesting.

“Those that are off duty and that are on duty are continuing with what is expected from them.”

Harmans said the ambulance staff would have a full-blown strike, and come out in their masses if nothing is done about their grievances. Health department spokesman Siyanda Manana said management met with the union representative, and staff had returned to work.

“Currently management is in discussion with the unions on all the issues raised. There are many departmental processes which must be followed in filling posts, payments etc,” said Manana.

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