Ambulance strike called off

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Unions representing Emergency Medical Services (EMS) employees in Bhisho, Eastern Cape, have called off their strike after reaching an agreement with management.

The employees had embarked on an illegal strike, which commenced last week Friday, citing non-payment of overtime hours. 

The strike affected operations, as work at ambulance bases came to a halt.

During the strike, the Eastern Cape Health Department activated its contingency plans to ensure that ambulance users were able to access emergency services and be transported to health facilities.

In the agreement reached on Wednesday, the department commits to address the concerns raised by workers, and these include:

  • Overtime claims for 2003 - 2011 referred to an arbitration process for a ruling;
  • Overtime claims for the period 2012-2014 will be paid between December 2018 and January 2019; and
  • The outstanding payment of claims for the period between July and October 2018 will be paid in November.

Health MEC Helen Sauls-August has welcomed the end of the strike. However, she warned against essential service workers embarking on an illegal strike as this endangered the lives of patients.

“We are pleased that the management and unions have reached an agreement on this. We want all our emergency services to put our patients first and not take actions that put their lives at risk.”

Sauls-August also apologised to the public about the inconvenience caused by the illegal strike.

The department will sign a new agreement that confirms the resolutions on Thursday.

The MEC said the contingency plan will remain in place until all employees report back to work.

“The department will also monitor resumption of duties in all its ambulance bases in all districts.” 

Night shift employees are said to have gone back to work on Wednesday. –