HOSPERSA CONDEMNS HARASSMENT OF MEMBERS AT MPUMALANGA HEALTH
23 November 2017
Hospersa condemns the recent acts of harassment directed at its members at Ehlanzeni District, Mpumalanga. Two Hospersa members are being unfairly victimised for non-payments of travel claims amounting to over two hundred thousand rands due to Primary Health Care (PHC) employees by the Mpumalanga Department of Health (DoH). The Union calls on the Mpumalanga Health Head of Department (HOD) to intervene and instruct the Ehlanzeni District to fully disclose the district’s financial woes in order to end the misdirected anger at its members.
According to reports, two Hospersa members were harassed and verbally abused at an institution at Hoxane, Mpumalanga, on 17 November 2017. The attack eminated from the unfounded allegations that the Hospersa members, acting in their respective roles as the Ehlanzeni District Director of Administration and Finance and Deputy Director of Finance, had ordered for the non-payment of travel claims to PHC employees. The allegations emerged after the District Manager at Ehlanzeni District, informed staff members that the department will not be paying travel claims for October to December 2016 amounting to over two hundred thousand rands. It is reported that the non-payments are due to the austerity measures being implemented by the province and that the two Hospersa members are being used as scapegoats for the financial crisis.
“We condemn the harassment and unfair treatment targetted at our members,” said Hospersa’s legal manager Sean McGladdery. “This matter has been building up since the announcement of the non-payments was made in early August 2017. The unfair branding of our members as witholding employees deserved benefits has led to them being victimised while the department has stood by without taking any corrective measures to rectify the unfounded allegations,” added McGladdery.
On 1 November 2017, Hospersa wrote to the Mpumalanga Health HOD regarding the increasing acts of harassment against its members. At the time, the members had been removed from their workplaces and placed in an open office with no resources to fulfill their duties. In the letter, the Union questioned the legality of evicting its members on the basis of allegations that have not been tested or substantiated. On 7 November 2017, the Union again wrote to the Mpumalanga Health HOD after receiving a meeting cancellation notice a day before a scheduled meeting regarding this matter. The reason for the cancellation was due to a departmental strategy meeting schedule for the same day. Hospersa objected the cancellation and subsequent to their letter, the meeting took place on 8 November 2017.
Resolutions taken at this meeting included that the District Manager would convene a meeting between recognised trade unions in the district offices to notify them that the two Hospersa members would be resuming with their duties and returning to their normal workplaces. It was further resolved that the trade unions must notify their members that the decisions behind the austerity measures were not taken by the two Hospersa members and that disciplinary action would be taken against those employees found to be harassing or unfairly treating these Hospersa members.
“We were encouraged by these resolutions as they seemed to have brought the matter to an end,” said McGladdery. “However, the said resolutions were not implemented and to date our members continue being victimised. We have again written to the Mpumalanga Health HOD expressing our disappointment on the slow pace in solving this matter. It is unjustifiable that our members continue working in fear and being humiliated based on allegations which the department’s senior principals concurs as being unfounded,” argued McGladdery.
“We are also pertubed by the fact that our correspondence to the HOD seems to be falling on deaf ears with no acknowledgement or responses to our letters. This slow response gives an impression that the department condones the violent behaviour levelled against our members,” said McGladdery. “It is important to note that the two members being harassed are women. It is therefore unnaceptable for the HOD to just fold her arms and watch considering the high levels of gender based violence against women in the country,” commented McGladdery.
“We call on the Mpumalanga HOD to urgently intervene and instruct management at Ehlanzeni District to support our members in returning to their places of work. We also call on the District management to fully disclose the financial state of affairs to the employees so that they may fully understand the implementation of the austerity measures and direct their anger to the relevant parties from an informed position,” concluded McGladdery.
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For more information please contact Hospersa’s Manager (Legal Services), Sean McGladdery on 060-537-5132.
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