The Eastern Cape Health Department and unions remain at loggerheads over the employment of thousands of temporary workers.
Contracts of more than 8 000 healthcare workers, employed to boost the sector in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, came to an end last month.
Unions are demanding that the contract workers be absorbed. But the department says it’s unable to do so, citing financial constraints.
The healthcare workers that got hired soon at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 were informed earlier this year that their contracts will not be renewed. This angered the worker unions. They say the department can’t make such a decision, while there are serious staff shortages in key positions within public health facilities.
Provincial deputy secretary of NEHAWU, Sweetness Stokwe says the department should ensure that the workers retain their jobs.
“The last time that the department has appointed non-clinical workers was 2015, and workers have died during Covid19, workers went on pension, they are not being replaced on a permanent basis, they are just exploiting your people paying them R3 500.”
Regional chairperson for the other healthcare workers union, DENOSA, Athini Mbulawa, says the job losses will be devastating for healthcare facilities.
“We are noting that things are not being on how we are agreed upon. We are very much concerned about the direction the department is taking in terms of addressing issues of shortages of staff they spend so much money on lawyers that they are unwilling to fund the process of recruiting.”
Eastern Cape Health MEC, Nomakhosazana Meth says they are unable to meet workers’ demands, due to budget constraints.
“Unfortunately we don’t have money, we use to place them post the period of contract now because of the situation we are in as a department it’s difficult for us to take them.”
The worker unions say the morale of permanent staff has also been affected because they feel overworked. They have called on the national government to intervene in this matter. -Reporting by Lwando Nomoyi
VIDEO: End of the road for Eastern Cape healthcare workers and support staff: