Health staff plan mass protest

2014-11-19 00:00

THOUSANDS of patients in need of emergency medical care could be left stranded as provincial ambulance workers across the province down tools next week.

Emergency Medical Services (EMS) staff say they will be travelling to uMkhanyakude District to take part in a protest march on Tuesday.

More protests are planned as the workers intensify their fight against the Department of Health.

A source aware of the pending protest said while a protest on a smaller scale was held in Newcastle last month, the one in uMkhanyakude will involve the entire province.

He said another protest will also be held in uMgungundlovu, but was not yet sure when this would occur.

The workers are still locked in a battle with their managers over unresolved issues that date back to their strike earlier this year.

The EMS staff in uMgungundlovu downed tools for several weeks in May, protesting non-payment of overtime, being paid a grade below their level and working with old ambulances that were prone to breaking down.

The issue of ambulances was also recently raised by the National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) during a surprise visit to Edendale Hospital. They said there was a shortage of ambulances in the uMgungundlovu District and some were in poor state.

DA MPL Dr Imran Keeka said in a statement the concerns of the workers should be addressed quickly and said the looming strike on the 25th was a concern.

“This is not the first time the EMS staff has threatened to down tools; last month they did the same …”

The department had not responded to questions by yesterday.

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