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Emergency workers vow shutdown

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Union members downed tools on Monday. They reported for duty but did not perform any duties or attend to any emergency calls.

EMERGENCY Medical Services (EMS) staff in the Pixley ka Seme district stated that they would shut down operations at hospitals in the district from today.

Members of the National Education, Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu) downed tools on Monday, where they reported for duty but did not perform any duties or attend to any emergency calls.

EMS workers felt “undermined” when the MEC for the Department of Health visited De Aar on Monday and left, without addressing them.

“Out of a total of 15 hospitals in the district, 11 hospitals including De Aar, Phillipstown and Colesburg, will not be operational. If anyone dies during this time the MEC must be held accountable. She must not blame us because she is not treating EMS with any sense of urgency.

“The shutdown will continue until the MEC meets with trade unions. It was a spit in our faces when she met with district management earlier this week and ignored the workers, while we waited for her since 8am on Monday.

“We were informed that the MEC is not available to see us today as she will be attending the State of the Province Address. The MEC must stop with her arrogance and must come and listen to our issues.”

Workers said that they were unable to perform their duties without the necessary tools.

“We have been pleading for enough personnel, ambulances and resources. The ambulances have clocked more than 900 000 kilometres on the odometres and are a danger on the roads. None of them are licenced.

“We need more paramedics to assist patients at the scene where they do not require to be transported to hospital. This will enable EMS staff to attend to critical patients.”

It is believed that some staff members were threatened in De Aar yesterday.

Nehawu regional secretary in the Arshall Thembani Dyushu region, Yolo Booysen, stated that the “no show” of the MEC of Health on Monday had angered workers.

“EMS uniforms were replaced seven years ago and workers now have to buy uniforms out of their own pockets. They need to be clearly identified when they attend to a scene.

“The ambulances are not roadworthy and those that were handed over by the Premier amounted to maybe one in each region. This made no difference in ensuring the provision of quality health care services. Workers are frustrated.”

He stated that workers wanted the MEC or HOD for Health to personally attend to their concerns.

“We have, on several occasions, raised our grievances with the EMS manager and no action was taken.

“We want to know where the ambulances that were procured, have been placed.”

Booysen added that an agreement had to be reached regarding overtime pay because workers are working extensive hours with no overtime.

He indicated that workers were peaceful and had not intimidated anyone in De Aar.

“No property or ambulances were damaged and we did not block the entrance.

“However, we advise the MEC to put out the fire now, before it spreads to mass action throughout the Province.”

Booysen said that their concerns had to be noted before the beginning of the new financial year.

“If we wait any longer, we will be told that there is no budget.”

Spokesperson for the MEC for Health, Lebogang Majaha, stated that MEC Mase Manopole had “a progressive meeting” with the provincial leadership of Nehawu on Tuesday.

“Both parties agreed to allow the provincial leadership of Nehawu ample time to engage with their regional leadership so as to ensure that a follow-up meeting takes place next week in the Pixley ka Seme district.

“The provincial leadership of Nehawu agreed with Manopole that the go-slow of EMS staff must be suspended until talks resume.”