Johannesburg – The Public Servants Association (PSA) is calling on the Gauteng Department of Health to renew the contracts of thousands of doctors, nurses, and other healthcare workers whose contracts expired on 31 March 2023.
On Friday, the PSA urged the Gauteng government to work with the national Department of Health to renew the contracts to ensure immediate capacity to deal with the cholera outbreak.
At least 23 people have died from Cholera in Hammanskraal and surrounding areas.
The disease has also surfaced in the Free State, where one person has died bringing the total number of deaths from cholera in South Africa to 24.
The PSA said renewing the expired contracts would also help deal with other pressing needs and ensure compliance with occupational health and safety at affected hospitals and clinics.
“The department employed more than 3 000 employees through Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) and more than 1 000 fixed-term contract employees from 2020,” the PSA said.
“They all had reasonable expectations that their contracts would be renewed on 1 April 2023.
“The department decided not to renew these contracts owing to alleged budgetary constraints.”
The PSA said it was concerned about the mounting pressure of staff shortages and an increasing number of patients that the department “must serve on a daily basis”.
The PSA said it had previously engaged the Gauteng Premier Panyaza Lesufi, in March 2023, and he promised that the contracts of EPWP employees would be renewed.
However, the PSA said it subsequently learnt that there was only “a partial renewal” with less 2 000 EPWP contracts being renewed.
“On 18 May 2023, the MEC for the Gauteng Health informed the PSA that the Department had budget constraints and could not renew the 2 000 contracts it had through EPWP,” said the PSA.
“The PSA is concerned that the MEC is acting contrary to the undertaking of the Gauteng Premier to renew these contracts.
“More than 2 000 health workers are now unemployed during a time of a cholera outbreak in the province that has already claimed lives in the Hammanskraal area.
The union said the department was aware that the government has not been filling positions and contract workers have been used to fill the enormous gaps.
“The PSA urges the Gauteng Government to work with the department to renew the contracts of the 2 000 employees.”