DA KZN: Today’s EMRS protest march must be the last

Dr Imran Keeka, MPL

DA KZN Spokesperson on Health:

THE DA has been reliably informed that an Emergency Medical Rescue Services (EMRS) protest march, scheduled to take place this morning in Ladysmith, will go ahead with a memorandum of grievance to be delivered to the KZN Health District offices thereafter.

The DA has consistently raised the issue of EMRS staff working conditions. We believe they are victims of unfair labour practice and expected to work under conditions that don’t always allow for optimal functioning. The fact that in some parts of KZN they are working out of make-shift ambulances is evidence of this.

Some of the grievances raised by EMRS workers, solutions of which have been gazetted as far back as 2007 and not implemented, include;

  • OSD vs Salary/ Salary Grading
  • Processes through which disciplinary matters are handled
  • Long working hours
  • Overtime pay
  • Safety
  • No danger allowance

The DA is on record as having tabled several motions and stimulated debate around this matter in the KZN legislature.

The response by KZN’s Health MEC and his department is no different to the response given to EMRS staff – deafening silence – rather than dealing with these long standing issues, some of which go back to 2012.

It is difficult to comprehend how the MEC can recklessly ignore the many calls for action knowing full well how these conditions affect not only the working morale and livelihoods of staff, but patients’ lives too.

Any time spent away from performing their life saving work may result in fatalities and morbidity for those who are dependent on this essential service.

Today is no exception and there can be no doubt that response times to emergencies will be severely affected.

The DA has requested a copy of today’s memorandum and will call on KZN’s Health MEC to establish a task team as a matter of urgency. We will also communicate this request to the Chairperson of the provincial Health Portfolio Committee.

Thereafter a detailed report of the current situation within the EMRS must be tabled and sufficient time allocated to work towards a lasting and permanent solution.

The issues raised by EMRS staff must be dealt with so that there is no more wanton waste of time or worse still death as a result of the department’s inaction.