Angry Free State paramedics march to premier’s office

Cosatu workers march - picture for illustrative purposes. Photo: Ashraf Hendricks

Safety, maladministration, non-payment of overtime and a lack of adequate resources or basic material rank among their concerns.

Increasing attacks on emergency medical services (EMS) personnel and poor working conditions in the Free State have come under the spotlight, after hundreds of EMS workers took their frustrations to the streets of Bloemfontein yesterday.

The protesters, who marched from the financially troubled Free State Psychiatric Hospital to the premier’s office, alleged that their calls for better working conditions, salary increments, payment of overdue overtime, and complaints over unfair dismissals have consistently fallen on deaf ears.

The group, represented by unions Democratic Nursing Organisation of SA (Denosa) and trade union federation Cosatu, lambasted the provincial health department for failing to take action on their demands.

They said they want Premier Sisi Ntombela to take immediate action and redress their issues. The unions have vowed to halt medical services in the province should their demands in the memorandum not be met.

The Free State Provincial Government said it would respond to the demands within seven working days.

Their protests come just days after an EMS crew was attacked while attending to a patient in Lusaka in Theunissen.

The unions further said the nonpayment of the EMS personnel’s overtime has been outstanding since 2013.

Maladministration, a lack of adequate resources or basic material, such as gloves and protective clothing, also rank among their concerns.

Chief director in the premier’s office, Isaac Radebe, said they have noted the march and will soon respond.

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