The union is challenging the subsidy allocated to employees in the open medical scheme category, which is R1 014 for employees who are on other medical schemes, while employees on GEMS get R3 545 subsidy per month.
NATU with the support of the National Union of Public Service (NUPSAW) and Allied Workers Union (HORSPESA), who are partners in the Public Service Bargaining Council said they took the decision to take the legal route as action to “restore the integrity of their members” both those who belong to Government Medical Scheme GEMS as well those who they say are “victims” of GEMS.
The matter is expected to be heard at the Pretoria CCMA in about three weeks time.
NATU deputy president Allen Thompson said they have received numerous complains from GEMS members indicating that they were not happy with the service they are receiving from GEMS.
“The government is rewarding incompetence by inflating the GEMS subsidy at the expense of the affected public servants.,” he said.
He said the employees unhappiness about the government owned medical scheme is evident in the number of members who are terminating their membership in preference to living their lives without belonging to medical aid, putting themselves at risk of not having a medical aid cover.
“If we allow this situation to continue, we will be contributing to even more overcrowding at our public hospitals, which are already struggling to provide health care services to the unemployed citizens,” he said.
He said further to that the employees on other medical aids are unable to keep up with the ever increasing medical aid contributions- they too are cancelling their membership.
Thompson said it is ironic that while the Employment Equity Act was amended on August 15, 2015 to enshrine and uphold the South Africa’s commitment to the principle of equal work for equal pay, a direct consequence of the GEMS agreement serves to discriminate against employees who do not belong to GEMS.
“The difference in the medical aid subsidy is deliberately done to force the workers to join or to stay on the government medical aid scheme even though they are not satisfied with the service even though the government contributes so much in subsidies,” said Thompson.