Hospersa challenges ambulance outsourcing

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The outsourcing of North-West ambulance services when there are vacant and funded posts available, has been challenged by the Health and Other Services Personnel Trade Union of SA.

The Health and Other Services Personnel Trade Union of SA (Hospersa) has sent an open letter to the Minister of Health regarding the re-utilisation of contract staff and the outsourcing of ambulance services in the North-West Province. Polity reports that the letter questions the use of a temporary employment services agency when there are vacant and funded posts available in the institutions.

The union has asked the Minister (of Health) to investigate the contract’s necessity which has resulted in industrial action due to dissatisfaction by employees and all trade unions with membership in the Department of Health (DoH). In the letter to Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, Hospersa raised concerns regarding the appointment of Marang Turnkey Solutions (Pty) Ltd for the rendering of health professionals and hospitality staff in the North West Province for a period of three years as well as the outsourcing of ambulance services.

The report says at its core, Hospersa’s letter asks the minister to immediately direct the North-West Department of Health to suspend Contract NWDOH47/205 which came into effect in June 2017 and to further investigate the contract’s necessity, the fairness of the rates charged by the service provider and the source of its funding. The open letter places much emphasis on the rationale to employ temporary workers instead of filling vacant and funded posts that are available.

“The awarding of this contract is irregular and unnecessary,” said Hospersa general secretary Noel Desfontaines. “It is highly irregular to fulfil a significant amount of the staffing needs of public sector institutions by using temporary employment services. Such action denies members of the local community proper and decent employment opportunities,” argues Desfontaines.

The report says the awarded contract has been met with severe dissatisfaction with employees and all trade unions with membership in the DoH, resulting in reported industrial action and unlawful acts whereby the North West Provincial Office was vandalised, ambulances burned and health care services disrupted.

It is reported that there are calls for the current industrial action to be escalated and to spread through the entire province. There also has been reported incidents of intimidation and pressure on Hospersa members to join the industrial action while some of the Union’s members have been prevented from working due to the forced closure of offices.

“We do not endorse such unprocedural industrial action,” said Desfontaines. “We have asked the Minister to urgently intervene before the situation becomes even more severe, not just for our members but also for the patients in the affected hospitals as well,” added Desfontaines.

“Whilst there is a need to source scarce skilled employees on a temporary basis, it is not understood why the DoH felt it was necessary to award such a contract while it has in place an Extended Public Works Programme (EPWP),” said Desfontaines. “The EPWP has in excess of four hundred lower level workers that have been offered temporary contracts to ensure that patient care and end-to-end service is delivered in the department’s various facilities. “It is also not a secret that employment agencies are profit driven and can be exploitative of vulnerable workers,” added Desfontaines.

“We call on the Minister (of Health) to urgently intervene in addressing the issues around the outsourcing of human resource which we contend as the root cause of the dissatisfaction,” concluded Desfontaines.

Polity report

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