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31 January 2017


The Health and Other Service Personnel Trade Union of South Africa (Hospersa) has summoned two state departments for arbitration at the Public Health and Social Development Sectoral Bargaining Council (PHSDSBC).  The Union argues that government is failing to implement key resolutions which have a serious and significant effect on government employees.  Hospersa is particularly concerned about the tardy implementation of rural allowances which exacerbates the massive employment and capacity crisis in rural South Africa.


The impending arbitration is the result of numerous attempts by Hospersa and its sister unions to solicit a response from the Department of Social Development (DSD) and Department of Health (DoH) to respond to its demands.  When negotiations finally deadlocked, the unions declared a dispute on 28 September 2016.  The dispute referred to the PHSDSBC specifically involves the review of PHSDSBC Resolution 2 of 2004 which deals with rural allowances for public health workers and PHSDSBC Resolution 1 of 2009, dealing with Occupational Specific Dispensation (OSD) for social service professionals.  More importantly, the issues in dispute also included the introduction of rural allowances to be paid to social services professionals.


The dispute was set down for conciliation at PHSDSBC on 17 October 2016, where the employer advised labour that feedback on matters in dispute would be given at the next meeting.  The employer failed to provide feedback at the following meeting on 27 October 2016 prompting the unions to request a certificate of non-resolution.  Failure by the employer to table a counter offer led to Hospersa referring the matter for Arbitration on 25 January 2017.  Sister unions have undertaken to ballot their members not designated as essential services for possible strike action. 


The next step in the dispute resolution process is what is known as compulsory arbitration – a process that allows parties to present their cases to the commissioner, who will then make a legally binding decision to resolve the dispute.


“Hospersa is adamant that the government must be taken to task where it is found lacking in the areas of implementation of resolutions – especially those that directly affect service delivery to the most vulnerable people in our country,” said Hospersa’s head of Collective Bargaining, Rifos Mahlake.  “Government seems to drag its feet when these very important matters are to be finalised, and therefore Hospersa is fully supportive of the current legal process,” he added.


At the heart of the dispute is the introduction of rural allowance for social services professions.  This includes Social Workers, Social Auxiliary Workers, Community Development Practitioners, Nurses, as well as Child and Youth Care Workers.  Hospersa and its sister unions also tabled a review of the entry salary levels for Social Work categories, Child and Youth Care Workers as well as for Social Auxiliary Workers and Assistant Community Development Practitioners.


Hospersa was very active last year in tabling a range of progressive proposals to address the health care needs in the public sector, but still our social partner [government] fails to come to the party,” said Mahlake.  “It is actually ironic when one takes into account that the key issues hampering service delivery are staff shortages, poor management and corruption, when considering the lacking commitment by the state negotiators.  The irony is even greater in light of the recent statements by the Minister [of Health, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi] that government is doing all in its power to fill the vast number of vacancies at rural public health institutions.  One would think that innovative incentives such as rural allowances would be high on the agenda … but it seems that is not the case,” Mahlake pointed out. 


“Hospersa is a union that prefers constructive engagement and I can assure you that the decision to refer the current dispute for arbitration was not one that was taken lightly.  The main motivator was state negotiators failing to show commitment to addressing the social justice needs of our country.  We trust that the dispute will be amicably resolved and that possible industrial action can be avoided.  Hospersa will always be guided by the mandate from our members, while we also have a constant realisation of our service to the South African society,” Mahlake concluded. 



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For interviews please contact Hospersa Executive Manager (Collective Bargaining) Rifos Mahlake – 083-652-9396.


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