HOSPERSA SIGNALS IMPENDING MEDICROSS STRIKE
14 March 2017
The Health and Other Service Personnel Trade Union of South Africa (Hospersa) has signalled impending strike action at the Medicross Health Group of private health institutions. The Union reports that its members are rejecting another sub-inflation pay increase offer by Medicross, and warns that it is now finalising plans to start with strike action.
On Monday the feedback from members who partook in a countrywide ballot was in favour of rejection, which led to Hospersa requesting a strike certificate from the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA). The Union is also informing Medicross and its parent company, Netcare of the impending industrial action.
“Our members are very unhappy with Medicross again offering a cost of living adjustment which is lower than inflation,” said Hospersa’s collective bargaining head, Rifos Mahlake. “It is simply inhumane to expect people to work every year while their income becomes lesser and lesser,” Mahlake added.
The final offer by Medicross was an increase of 6% across the board while the inflation rate as measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI) stood at 6,4% for the period 2016. The previous year’s adjustment of 6 % was also below the inflation rate of 6,4% at the time. The forecast for CPI by the Department of Treasury has been confirmed as 6,4% for the period 2017, and headline inflation already measured at 6,2% by the Monetary Policy Committee at its first meeting in January 2017.
“One must remember that inflation is not easy to measure for specific groups of people,” said Mahlake. “The CPI is but one index, and it consists of a generalised basket of expenses of a particular citizen profile – be it urban or rural. It is important to realise that real inflation experienced by our member profile at Netcare and Medicross is often much higher than CPI, as they tend to spend more money on basic goods like food, transport and energy generation,” Mahlake argued.
Hospersa, which is the majority trade union at the Netcare Group (which includes Medicross), started engaging in wage negotiations with Netcare on 1 February 2017 and a deadlock was reached on 8 February 2017. The CCMA was then called in to facilitate a process of resolving the wage impasse. During the process, Hospersa held firm on its demands while Medicross dug in its heels.
On 9 March 2017 the CCMA commissioner, Mohamed Rajah advised Hospersa to call a ballot to obtain a mandate from members. The ballot would be on whether to accept or reject Medicross’ final offer of a wage increase of 6% across the board, as well as the proposed medical aid subsidy of 6%. Rejection of the offer would mean the deadlock remains, and as a dispute of interest the only remedy would be industrial action by Hospersa.
“Hospersa does not take strike action lightly, and we always first look at other avenues to solve worker problems,” said Mahlake. “We are still strategising on how to approach this matter and will consult with our members and stakeholders on the best way forward before engaging in industrial action. Some of the options being considered include lobbying support from sister sites or subsidiary companies in a secondary strike,” Mahlake concluded.
For interviews please contact Hospersa Head of Collective Bargaining, Rifos Mahlake on 083-652-9396
Hospersa – The Trade Union of Choice for Service Workers in the Public and Private Sector
Please visit us on www.hospersa.co.za to see what we stand for and what we do