- Limpopo Health MEC Phophi Ramathuba helped to avert a strike by workers.
- Ramathuba told line managers to draft a duty roster at each health facility.
- Unions have cautiously welcomed the development.
A renewed strike by Limpopo health workers was averted when Health MEC Phophi Ramathuba scuppered efforts by administrators to unilaterally implement a new duty roster.
The new roster has been at the centre of a dispute with seven trade unions.
Ramathuba hastily convened a meeting in Polokwane with all provincial medical services managers, where the two circulars were withdrawn to allow line managers to draft a duty roster at each health facility.
Three weeks ago, the unions agreed with Ramathuba that the two circulars be withdrawn to pave way for discussions, though they complained that the head of department, Dr Thokozani Mhlongo, "deliberately" altered the agreement. This resulted in talks of a strike.
In a statement after the meeting, Ramathuba said the move was to allow line managers to draft their own rosters, according to the dynamics of their respective areas.
"It became clear there was a breakdown in communication when the implementation was to be realised," Ramathuba said.
Unions have maintained that health authorities in the province have been under pressure from Treasury to reduce their budget by R3.9 billion, hence the rushed move to unilaterally alter the working conditions of workers.
Speaking on behalf of the unions, National Education, Health and Allied Workers' Union (Nehawu) provincial secretary, Jacob Adams, said the initiative was a step in the right direction.
"We think the health department has listened to workers, and let's give this particular period a chance to see whether it brings beneficial fruits to workers in the province."