Paramedics protest salary cuts

2015-11-27 10:45
Siso Dlamini uses a loudspeaker to address members of the Department of Health and KZN Legislature as fellow paramedics look on during a protest.

Siso Dlamini uses a loudspeaker to address members of the Department of Health and KZN Legislature as fellow paramedics look on during a protest. (Amil Umraw, The Witness)

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Pietermaritzburg - “There will be no ambulances in KZN after Christmas.”

This was the threat to the Department of Health and the KwaZulu-Natal provincial government yesterday by enraged Emergency Medical Services paramedics.

A group of about 100 paramedics flocked to the streets yesterday, marching from Dales Park to the KZN Legislature, to hand over a memorandum to government officials.

Acting as the group’s representative, former paramedic Sisi Dlamini said the small gathering yesterday was only a preview to “bigger marches to come”.

Dlamini said if their demands were not met, state employed paramedics from across the province would down tools on December 25.

The protesters marched slowly from Dales Park at about 11 am, chanting and waving placards, following closely behind the yellow van that Dlamini stood on, encouraging the crowd with a loudhailer.

When the group reached the Legislature, they were met by state officials who stood listening to their demands.

“The protest [yesterday] was to submit the same memorandum to government for the second time as a reminder of our concerns,” Dlamini said.

Yesterday’s protest comes after almost three years of animosity between paramedics and the state over the implementation of Occupation Specific Dispensation (OSD) — an allowance in line with experience and expertise, which some EMS staff insisted has never been paid by the department.

According to Dlamini, OSD has also resulted in salary cuts.

The paramedics also demanded a fair hearing for 20 colleagues dismissed earlier this year for downing tools in unsanctioned protests across the province.

“There will be no overtime work. Some Basic Life Support paramedics suffer a salary cut of about R2 000 while the salaries of some Advanced Life Support paramedics were halved,” Dlamini said.

“It is affecting the paramedics’ lives greatly. Lots of houses and cars have been repossessed and their children’s education has been affected.”

• amil.umraw@witness.co.za

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg

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