Strike by Emergency Medical Services ends after four days

EMS employees in Graaff-Reinet went on strike last week Tuesday

Photo of an ambulance

EMS employees in Graaff-Reinet went on strike on Tuesday last week. The strike ended Friday. Photo: Joseph Chirume

By Joseph Chirume

18 February 2020

Employees of Emergency Medical Services in Graaff-Reinet, who were on strike since last Tuesday, suspended the strike on Friday. But the workers say their grievances have not been resolved.

The workers had demanded outstanding bonuses for several years.

They reported for work but refused to respond to emergencies.

About fifteen workers on Thursday morning were gathered in a restroom at the dilapidated EMS building in Murray Street. They complained about their working conditions. They showed GroundUp their waiting room which does not have chairs or tables.

“We spend most of the time sitting on the floor …The walls of this building are peeling and there are cracks,” said an employee who did not want to be named.

In a room there were incubators lying idle. “This is a waste of money because some of our ambulances do not have incubators,” said an employee.

Eastern Cape Health MEC Sindiswa Gomba’s spokesperson, Judy Ngoloyi, said: “The striking staff are back at work after successful negotiations with the department.“

But EMS Port Elizabeth workers’ spokesperson, Msuthu Ndlovu, said, “The grievances were not addressed. We are still owed money by the government. We decided to go back to work after divisions surfaced among workers.

“Workers in some regions were not prepared to continue with the strike. We therefore decided to suspend the strike as it was most likely that striking workers would be victimised by the government … We have to sit down and get organised then we decide on the next move.”