Limpopo Health has accused thousands of its health workers of milking the state of nearly R2bn in the past two years by allegedly manipulating rosters to create the need for overtime pay. According to a Sowetan report, the department said it would not back down on its plan to introduce new rosters in public health facilities, cut overtime and allow employees to work 40 hours a week.
Labour unions representing doctors and nurses are fiercely opposing the implementation of the new measures and have threatened strike action over what they call a "unilateral decision to change the conditions of employment".
The department head, Dr Thokozani Mhlongo said they had found that the system was open to abuse. She said the department's expenditure on overtime was more than R900m in the 2019/2020 financial year. This, according to Mhlongo, was unsustainable as the department could not fill critical vacancies and purchase medical equipment "because individuals are robbing the system".
The provincial health department said as a result it spends R15.7bn of its R22.6bn budget on salaries. Mhlongo said the figure represented just over 70% of total expenditure. She said the department had commissioned a study to establish where the money was going.
Sowetan reports that the department said it had received correspondence from labour unions expressing their dissatisfaction with its plans. In a letter of notice to strike dated 26 February, seven labour unions informed the department about their intention to strike due to unilateral changes to the terms and conditions of employment.
Full Sowetan report (Open access)