NATU approaches CCMA over ‘medical aid discrimination’

NATU members say that employees who are not members of the Government Medical Aid Scheme (GEMS) are the targets of discrimination.

The public service and admin department said they had liaised with several of the unions representing government officials. Their proposals would see new, generous medical scheme subsidies. This has resulted in the National Teachers Union (NATU) lodging a complaint against the CCMA.

The Union has gone to the Commission for Conciliation, Meditation and Arbitration. NATU claims that the subsidy is less than what GEMS employees are getting. The subsidy allocated to employees in the open medical scheme category is R1 014,

Employees on GEMS get R3 545 every month. The subsidy for GEMS seems to be a worthwhile exercise. That is because it is likely to drive up the scheme’s membership figures.

NATUNATU – Dissatisfaction all-round with GEMS

So NATU, together with Allied Workers Union and the National Union of Public Service are going the legal route.  That is because they want to ‘restore the integrity of their members’, whether they are GEMS members or not.

Allen Thompson, deputy president of NATU, also said that many members had complained. They said they were not happy with the services they receive from GEMS.

NATU – Pressure on Public Hospitals

He believes that the Government is rewarding incompetency by inflating the GEMS subsidy at the expense of the public servants. He said that one should have a look at how many employees were terminating their membership with GEMS as this was indicative of their dissatisfaction with the medical scheme. Members would prefer to be without a medical aid than put up with the bad services and unfairness from the Government Medical Scheme.

With so many members leaving GEMS, he says that this situation is going to get out of hand. Members who opted out of the medical aid were going to have to be going to public hospitals, and these were already over-crowded, understaffed and incompetent.

Allen Thompson said that GEMS wasn’t the only medical scheme where people were terminating their membership – it is evident with other medical aids as well. Medical aids were just increasing their premiums and very few people can continue with them.

He went on to say that it was ironic that the Employment Equity Act was amended just recently in August 2015 to uphold South Africa’s commitment to the principle of equal work for equal pay, yet the GEMS agreement discriminates against employees who do not belong to GEMS.

NATU – What Medical Aids have to Resort to

People feel they should be able to belong to the same medical aid as anyone else in the civil servants employment and that the same benefits should be available to all, the same subsidies and that the same membership fees should apply to them across the board. People however feel that the medical aid subsidy issue is to force workers to remain with the medical aid even though they distrust GEMS’s  services.