'I've given the best years of my life to the Traffic Department and now that I need medical aid for chronic medication, they want to take it away from me.' Sad words from a traffic officer who has been working for the City of Cape Town's Traffic Services for more than 30 years. He was speaking at a meeting between various Law Enforcement officials and Mayor Helen Zille last week.
The traffic officer is one of a minority of officers who, at the time of their employment, were given free medical aid as part of their conditions of service. Representatives from the city's Law Enforcement Department echoed his sentiments, saying that medical aid "is a big issue because there are many people in Law Enforcement on chronic medication".
At the end of last month, the officers affected received a letter stating that as of 1 July, they would no longer be entitled to free medical aid. Since the matter came to light, the South African Municipal Workers Union (Samwu) raised its objections to the issue. "We have objected to the manner in which the free medical-aid is being phased out," says Samwu representative, Archie Hearne. A deal has, however, been agreed upon between the other union whose members are affected by the decision, the Independent Municipal and Allied Trade Union (Imatu).
"We have reached an agreement with the City of Cape Town, which regulates that the free medical for the affected officers will continue in a different form," says Imatu representative, Gawie Beukman. Traffic officers are, however, not satisfied with Imatu's agreement, saying that the issue was not discussed with them. They suggest that the free medical aid continues to be given to those members who currently receive it, and that the medical then be phased out gradually as these members resign or retire.
The suggestion was that new members then be employed under the new conditions of service and that the status quo remained for existing members.
The city was contacted for comment, but at the time of going to press, was not able to provide the comment.