Thirty-nine ambulance drivers working for the Mahalapye Sub District Council have written a letter to the Attorney General, demanding to be paid arrears, on standby fees and overtime allowances owed to each of them from April 1 when the new Public Service Act came into effect.
In a letter copied to the Ministry of Health through their lawyer, Onalethata Kambai, of Bayford and Associates, the drivers state that they were originally employed under the Ministry of Local Government, in the Central District Council, as ambulance drivers under various health posts.
The letter states that they were not working on shift but worked overtime and were paid standby allowances in accordance with the regulations of industrial class employees at the rate of 7,75 per month subject to their individual salary scale since 2008, which only covers 50 percent of the hours they worked whilst on standby.
The lawyer further states that 7,75 rate allowance is not reflective of the hours their clients are on standby as it only covers 16,30 hours and 00,30hours.
“They are not paid for standby period between 00,30 and 7,30 am and yet they will be on standby and expected to respond to any calls or instructions which they usually respond to from their principals to transport patients to and from the various hospitals and clinics within the sub district,” the letter states.
Further that following the announcement by the Ministry of Health on 1 April, 2010 that it was taking control of all Public Primary Health Posts (clinics) from the Ministry of Local Government, their clients’ contract of employment was now being governed by the Public Sector Act of 2008 as well as Public Service Charter and Employment Act, which provides the maximum working hours for all public servants as 8 hours per day, unless specifically provided.
The letter of demand also states that their clients have instructed them that they are practically working 24 hours because they do not work on shifts like their colleagues, fellow ambulance drivers whom they found working under the Ministry of Health and who work an 8 hour shift in accordance with the Public Service Act and the Employment Act.
The letter finally demands that the employer ceases expecting their clients to work more than 8 hours in contravention of the Public Service Act and the Employment Act unless each of them is paid overtime allowance in full where applicable.