| CAPE TOWN

Medscheme workers strike over bonus payment

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NEHAWU has refused Medscheme’s proposal to distribute R14.7 million among its more than 4,000 employees nationally.

Photo of striking workers
About 100 workers gathered outside the Medscheme building near the city centre in Cape Town at 10am on Thursday. Supported by the National Education Health and Allied Workers Union (NEHAWU), the workers say the company reneged on its commitment to pay them performance bonuses. Photo: Kristine Liao
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Medscheme workers took the streets of Cape Town, Johannesburg, and Durban on Thursday to demand that the company pay performance bonuses they say they were promised last year.

About 100 workers gathered outside the Medscheme building near the city centre in Cape Town at 10am on Thursday. Supported by the National Education Health and Allied Workers Union (NEHAWU), the workers say the company reneged on its commitment to pay them bonuses based on performance. They are demanding to be back paid from May 2018. Most of the striking employees work at the medical aid company’s call centres.

Medscheme administers several medical schemes.

NEHAWU approached the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration in January but negotiations over the bonus pay deadlocked earlier this month.

Patrick Sota, head of industrial relations at Medscheme, said that the R10,000 performance bonus was just one of the issues discussed during negotiations. Instead, Medscheme proposed that R14.7 million be distributed among over 4,000 employees nationally. This meant each workers would get less than R3,700 each.

Sota said that if the strike lasted more than ten days, workers would lose a considerable amount of their salaries. “It doesn’t make any sense for a R10,000 [bonus],” Sota said.

Busiswa Kibido, Medscheme shop steward and NEHAWU member, said workers planned to strike until their demand was met. She said the company’s proposal was “a drop in the ocean” compared to what they wanted.

The strike continues.

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