CRACKS have begun to show in the provincialisation of primary healthcare services as clinic staff in Nelson Mandela Bay claim they were not paid their car, cellphone and scarce skills allowances this month.
Despite assurances by provincial health officials that nothing would change after the Eastern Cape government took charge of clinics from the municipality, staff say their basic terms of service have been altered.
Senior staff claim drastic changes to their salaries have been made. This comes after they received their first pay cheque since the provincial health department took over the administration of primary healthcare from the metro this month.
But the department has hit back, saying its various allowances were implemented differently to the metro, and that the financial remuneration of staff had not changed.
A Bay clinic manageress, who asked to remain anonymous, said that judging by this month’s salary, she would lose about R108000 of her annual remuneration.
"There was a huge difference in my pay slip this month as compared to previously,” she said.
"As it stands now, I’m R9000 underpaid for the month – R6700 for car and R2300 for scarce skills allowances. Because we have to commute between a number of clinics, we were encouraged to get our own transport and the car allowance literally paid for my car.”
A colleague who works in administration and would also not be named for fear of reprisal said they were told that to deal with the car allowance issue, province would pay off employees’ vehicles and incorporate them into the department’s pool cars.
"The head of department [Dr Siva Pillay] told us that in a meeting on July 13, in essence giving us two months notice,” he said.
"I feel like the rug has been pulled out from under our feet.”
Nozethu Stuurman, a storekeeper at the department’s offices in Govan Mbeki Avenue, said while she did not receive her R1000 cellphone allowance, she was happy with the R620 increase on her housing subsidy.
"I’m not the hardest hit this time. I lost some and I gained some, but there are those who lost a lot more,” she said.
Independent Municipal and Allied Trade Union (Imatu) regional chairman Chris Hay said they had anticipated such problems because "there had been a lack of proper consultation”.
"We always maintained that [provincialisation] will not be good for the people, despite assurances by the MEC [Sicelo Gqobana] and provincial officials,” he said.
"People should have been moved over with their conditions of service as they were, according to Section 197.”
Health department spokesman, Sizwe Kupelo, said while the structuring of packages may look different, employees would not lose out financially.
"The scarce skills allowance is implemented differently in government. There is also no car allowance for junior staff members, but a subsidy instead, where they can claim back for use of their vehicles.
"There are also benefits that the municipality did not have that the province does, like occupation specific dispensation. People must also look not only at the actual monetary value, but take heed of the improved benefits.”