KZN paramedics threaten to disrupt Durban Afcon matches

2013-01-22 00:00

KWAZULU-NATAL Emergency Medical Rescue Services workers have threatened to disrupt Africa Cup of Nation (Afcon) matches in Durban if their working conditions and wage demands are not met.

The paramedics threatened to bring to a halt all medical services in Durban on Sunday, when South Africa play Morocco. Mali play the Democratic Republic of Congo in Durban on Monday.

The threat was made during a march in Pietermaritzburg.

“We will disrupt the Afcon games if our demands are not met,” said Sifiso Dlamini, speaking for the workers.

He handed a memorandum with their grievances to Vivani Made, an official from the Premier’s Office.

At least 300 off-duty paramedics from all 11 districts across KZN marched yesterday.

Made said he would pass the memorandum to the chief of staff at the Premier’s Office and they would try to respond to the grievances before the seven-day deadline expires.

Other paramedics said yesterday’s march was not meant to disrupt services.

“We don’t mean to fight, but if we are ignored, we will halt all the services. Even the employees who are working will be pulled off [duty],” said a paramedic who asked not to be named. “We will start marching in every district, and from then on the marches will be strengthened in the bigger cities.”

The paramedics alleged that the management was cheating them out of overtime pay and the danger allowance they were entitled to.

They said they were supposed to work 40 hours a week, but management had added three more hours a day for which they were not paid.

Other paramedics accused the Health Department of not caring about its employees.

A former employee, Abdool Sheik, said he was injured on duty in 2008. He lost the sight in his left eye and had only 40% of vision in his right eye.

He and his partner were attending to a patient when they were hijacked. “Because of the injuries I suffered, I was supposed to get medical boarding, but instead the department just fired me.”

The department was approached for comment, but had not responded at the time of going to press.

Afcon local organising committee spokesperson Sipho Sithole said the LOC was not aware of the strike threat and could not comment.

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