No solution to paramedics’ plight

2013-08-21 00:00

DISGRUNTLED paramedics in the service of the provincial Health Department yesterday had to turn away empty-handed with unresolved issues after the Public Health and Social Development Bargaining Council indicated it has no jurisdiction to arbitrate on the issues raised.

The KwaZulu-Natal Health Department’s emergency medical response service was nearly paralysed yesterday, with the majority of paramedics arriving in Stanger for the hearing. The paramedics are expected back at work today.

The bargaining council yesterday, however, informed them it had no jurisdiction to arbitrate in the dispute between the department and paramedics.

Yesterday, the National Union of Public Service and Allied Workers (Nupsaw) said in a statement that patients in the rural districts of Amajuba and uMzinyathi districts were most affected.

All eleven health districts had to make do with skeleton staff while their colleagues were putting their collective concerns to the bargaining council.

Nupsaw spokesperson Nkosinathi Ndamase said the prolonged negotiations between the department and workers could have a crippling effect on the lives of many patients. Even though the council could not arbitrate, it:

• Recognised the employees’ grievances about working long hours without corresponding remuneration;

• Ordered the Department of Health to obtain clarification from the Department of Public Administration about the issues, and the health authorities to give feedback to organised labour and employees over the dispute; and

• Recommended to the employer and employee to meet within 30 days to discuss the grievances.

Provincial Health Department spokesperson Desmond Motha referred The Witness to the head of communications, Sam Mkhwanazi, who was unavailable to give comment.

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