Medics hit with decrease

2012-10-31 00:00

SOME 59 paramedics in KwaZulu-Natal may have to give up their homes, cars and their little luxuries due to a bungle by the Department of Health.

The department announced that it had made a mistake increasing their pay and that it would be reversed. They would go back to earning R108 732 a year as of next month from the R137 600 they have been earning for the past two years.

About 59 paramedics in eight districts are affected.

Their salaries went up two years ago after they acquired their Intermediate Life Support (ILS) certificates in 2010, which they were told qualified them for higher grading with better pay.

The pay did come and their lifestyles improved.

But now they have to pay back the R57 736 extra that they have accumulated over the two years.

Most paramedics have Basic Life Support (BLS) certificates and the Intermediate Life Support was their ticket to a better lifestyle.

Those who spoke to The Witness wanted to remain anonymous for fear of losing their jobs and being victimised.

A paramedic from uMgungundlovu District said that when his salary improved in 2010, so did his lifestyle.

Another paramedic with 10 years’ experience said that he had already approached real estate agents to sell his house.

“They didn’t even give us six months’ notice,” he said.

One paramedic said that he had done calculations, and would only be left with R500 for groceries after all his monthly debit orders had gone through.

The department’s spokesperson, Desmond Motha, said: “It has recently discovered that some of the employees were mistakenly translated to the wrong salary notches and this is what is now being corrected.”

He said the department was guided by the Public Service Act section 38 (1).

Motha said the process was not a demotion and that the employees would remain on the same rank, but on the correct salary.

“They are also given an option of stating how much they would like to see deducted as well as the period it should take as determined by their affordability.”

The paramedics said they were baffled by the fact that it could take up to two years for the government to spot such a mistake.

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