Ambulance crews take 'sick' days in protest

2013-02-06 17:31

Durban - KwaZulu-Natal ambulance crews were not officially on strike on Wednesday, but had apparently been booking off sick en masse to make a grievance felt.

The department had not received any official strike notice, but had noticed that large numbers of the province's emergency medical and rescue service (EMRS) staff had been booked off sick since 30 January, said health spokesperson Sam Mkhwanazi.

A group of disaffected EMRS staff had confronted Health MEC Sibongiseni Dhlomo about issues of danger pay and overtime at a meeting in the Illembe district on Tuesday, he said.

"All these issue are being discussed at the bargaining council at a national level."

Mkhwanazi said the province could not negotiate separately from the rest of the country, and that all staff who had booked off sick would have to prove they were in fact ill, or they would face the consequences.

He said union representatives at the meeting had distanced themselves from the dissatisfied staff.

Democratic Alliance provincial health spokesperson Makhosazana Mdlalose said in a statement that Dhlomo needed to address employees' concerns.

"Workers approached the DA for assistance, maintaining that there is no union dedicated to them, and that they are yet to be advised which union the MEC is negotiating with on their behalf," he said.

He claimed that more than 60 EMRS staff downed tools over the weekend.

He said the health department had failed to honour a commitment made seven years ago to introduce danger pay and salary grading.

  • Ben S - 2013-02-06 17:41

    A new way to strike, without striking. This is not a very healthy situation. Strikes are killing the S.A. economy.

      zweli.philiph - 2013-02-06 17:47

      mpofu was speaking a very true story

      squeegee.pilot - 2013-02-06 18:53

      If even a single person dies because of this they should be jailed. This is serious stuff. If my wife was in an accident an there was no one to come because they were "sick" I'd... maybe I shouldn't say.

  • Strikeback - 2013-02-06 17:50

    Fire them. This is an essential service. Max Dhlomo used their overtime and danger pay to buy fuel for his semi-private/emergency chopper. What a chop?

  • cecil.wright.142 - 2013-02-06 18:02

    Get rid of them and employ people who want to work. I would rather die than be treated by people like this. They are useless and of no value to the country, but then , given the way the government works, they would fit in perfectly

      grace.andtruth.77 - 2013-02-06 18:28

      Not fair Cecil... They save lives every day, work through the night, weekends, public holidays, have to attend to patients in extremely dangerous areas and situations! They earn less than our fat unfriendly lazy incompetent nurses!

      sean.graham.1297 - 2013-02-06 18:57

      You have no idea what Paramedics go through on a daily basis, so either educate yourself or shut up

      grace.andtruth.77 - 2013-02-06 21:47

      Sadly Cecil our best paramedics are leaving this country because of people like you. When you have a life or death situation one day... Remember your comment

  • siphom.mnguni - 2013-02-06 18:04

    It's when read about stories like this that you that you are indeed in the Republic of South Africa. Selfishness, self-centred, mean and total disregard for the service delivery. One day one is going to wake up to one of the failed African states. Heaven help us all.

      john.buang.39 - 2013-02-06 18:24

      It works both ways.

      grace.andtruth.77 - 2013-02-06 21:39

      Siphom..... The paramedics haven't fAiled us, we've failed them! All these years they have quietly gone about their business (saving lives)

      joe.soapie.73 - 2013-02-07 06:27

      siphom.mnguni :- Ungrateful much? These people help thousands of people every single day but when they strike because their concerns have not been addressed for seven years they're selfish, self-centred, mean and have a total disregard for service delivery? *snort* Whatever, dude.

  • pws69 - 2013-02-06 18:16

    He said the health department had failed to honour a commitment made seven years ago to introduce danger pay and salary grading. SEVEN YEARS to implement something that can take a month at most and it is still not done? How many of these EMS people have been shot at, beaten, raped or stabbed at a scene? Too many times, and nothing is done about it. For once, I am on the side of the "strikers"

      tersia.louw.12 - 2013-02-06 18:34

      Sounds like the union's not doing its job. A friend of mine has a son who's a paramedic and he's been shot twice. While I agree they need to strike, I think they're going about it the wrong way; they need to make sure that the fact of the strike/go slow is known, but still cover emergencies. Tough one for them. And us.

      pws69 - 2013-02-06 18:44

      It's a tough call to make - to strike. But it is now a well known fact that the ANC government only listens when you strike, and if you throw in a healthy dose of violence, looting, and burning, they react quicker. It's really screwed up, but it is what it is.

      pws69 - 2013-02-06 18:46

      @tienie, whilst I totally agree with you at a logical and moral level, let us be honest, these EMS guys haven't set the rules, the ANC government have, by their actions, or rather inaction. See my previous post.

  • ian.robertreid - 2013-02-06 18:27

    Take out the corrupt high ranking thieve's from the system then pay these worker's wat they may deserve??

  • gieljam.gomtor - 2013-02-06 18:36

    Total collapse of all civilized norms ,no wonder I saw a sick person being transported to what used to be a functional hospital with a wheel barrow...

  • sarah.snethlage - 2013-02-06 18:38

    Look at the context of this "sick Strike" The MEC was was approached about issues these guys had, their human right. The MEC tells them the matter is being discussed at the barganing council, but there is no representation on their part. So the issues are not being fairly addressed. Further more previous promises made seven years ago were renaged on. Next time you are in an accident (and the chances are high that you will be) then I challange you to tell the ambulance crew that they should be fired, for asking for a fair remuneration. They work long and very stressfull hours. If anybody should be fired, it should be the MEC.

  • grace.andtruth.77 - 2013-02-06 18:42

    If ANYONE in SA has a right to 'strike' ambulance crew do! They earn less than our fat lazy unempathetic nurses, they work long hard hours all through the night 365 days a year! They save more lives than doctors. They face the same dangers police do. Then they get blamed for arriving too late because of all the incompetent people handling the call centres... THINK people! THINK!

      joe.soapie.73 - 2013-02-07 06:33

      People have a bad habit of shooting the messenger. Ever noticed how a waitress gets the stick from a customer who isn't happy with his or her meal?

  • ramesh.hoobraj - 2013-02-06 19:14

    only wen u need a medic u,u will die

  • tusani.masoka - 2013-02-06 20:08

    Why does the government always wait 4 a strike in order to act. If the employer meet the employees halfway b4 the strikes, I think they wuld avoid many strike actions by workers. Always opposing even when it's not necessary, so that the govt saves face it ain't ayoba.

  • jason.marshall.1804 - 2013-02-06 20:08

    This is good way to make a statement. What can they do but listen to the demands. How can you prove somebody was not sick....

  • Philip - 2013-02-06 20:50

    These people work in difficult conditions. At the very least they should not have to beg the government for overtime pay. The fat politicians are lining their pockets with the money of dedicated essential services employees. Pay them what they are worth!

  • aitken.rob - 2013-02-06 22:39

    You all say "Bad EMRS" staff. I say we are bad for not recognizing the work they do. OH yes, will you "Ben", Zweli", Leonardb1" etc assist the staff that have been raped and beaten??? They also deserve the right to all the benefits you receive. I say poor on us for forcing them to down tools. Poor on the health MEC for 7 years of not doing what she promised. Poor on Goverment for using helicopters for private use. Poor on the health department for the millions of rands that have vanished due to corruption.

      joe.soapie.73 - 2013-02-07 06:47

      I don't agree with HOW the EMRS staff handled the situation but I do support them. The people who think the EMRS staff are in the wrong are selfish ungrateful hypocrites. Quite happy to sit around in their safe easy jobs expecting EMRS to arrive if they get a splinter .. but god help the ambulance crews if they so much as demand better working conditions (danger pay, benefits etc). I doubt I'd be wrong in saying that not a single one of these "nay-sayers" have ever worked a day as a paramedic in their lives.

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