Amathole health workers demand their cash

TIME TO PAY UP: More than 700 health workers from at least 20 clinics and health centres in the Amathole district protested in front of the health department’s Amathole District offices in Oxford Street demanding money owed to them Picture: MARK ANDREWS

MORE than 700 health workers from over 20 clinics and health centres in the Amathole District have vowed not to return to work until money due to them has been paid.

The health workers from the Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa (Denosa) protested outside the health department’s Amathole District offices early yesterday. Denosa representative Nokuzola Dekeda said they had only one demand – the money owed to them since 2009.

Dekeda said she was expecting at least 2000 people but not all pitched up .
She said the overdue money was meant to come from the R191-million given to the health department by the provincial executive last year to pay overdue human-resources related money to current and former employees.
“We’ ve had meetings with our managers several times and they say the money is coming, but it hasn’t reached us,” she said.

The Daily Dispatch visited three of the clinics yesterday afternoon.
Although Empilweni Health Centre in Gompo was open, patients said only asthma patients were being attended to, while others had been turned away . The gates at Eluxolweni Clinic in NU12 were closed.
At Nontyantyambo Health Centre a security guard said only the dispensary and one other section was open. Patients said they had been waiting for assistance at the dispensary for hours and had given up as there was nobody there.
Dekeda said: “We’ re not on strike yet; we’ re just concerned workers wanting our money. We’ll only be returning to work once our money is paid.” She said their region had completed their documents as per the requirements.
Dekeda said they were told they would be included in the November salary run. When that did not happen they were told to form a task team and work with human resources to fast-track and complete the requirements needed for payment.
She said they did so by December10 and sent it to Bhisho to meet the December18 run. But still none of the workers received any money – although some managers did. Dekeda said they were then promised they would be included in the Christmas Eve run, but still nothing .
When she followed up on the matter, she could not secure a meeting with the relevant officials.
“They didn’t call us for a meeting . I f these are 2009’s accruals and we’ re in 2013 – will it be accruals on top of accruals ,” she said .
Provincial health spokesman Sizwe Kupelo said: “We processed more than 298 cases from the Amathole area and we continue to process cases. T hese documents go through an auditing process; they cannot just be paid. We want to avoid irregular payments . What is important is that people are being paid.” —