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Community caregivers prepare to strike


“If the absorption takes place, we are demanding back pay as well as benefits"

CONCERNS: Thapelo Thole, from the South African Liberated Public Service Workers Union, yesterday spoke to more than a dozen caregivers who have decided to go on a strike after they expressed concern over the proposed absorption of their programme. Picture: Danie van der Lith

WHILE an official announcement regarding the absorption of hundreds of community health care workers is still outstanding, members of the South African Liberated Public Service Workers’ Union (Salipswu) have vowed to go on strike from tomorrow and are demanding clarity on their future prospects in their current positions.

Earlier this year, more than a dozen community health care workers (CHWs) expressed concern over the absorption of their programme as this would leave them underqualified for permanent employment, doing their current jobs.

In August, Salipswu provincial organiser, Thapelo Thole, explained that despite the fact that many of the affected caregivers had been doing this work for decades, an estimated 90 percent of them didn’t have matric and faced unemployment when the absorption came into effect.

Thole said that of the 2 600 CHWs in the Northern Cape, the department only wanted to absorb 1 400.

At the time, he added that unions and the department had also agreed on a stipend of R3 500 for workers at a national level, without first consulting with their provincial and regional structures.


Nearly two months later, Thole said yesterday that the situation had not shown much improvement and that Salipswu members would be embarking on mass action later this week unless their grievances are addressed.

“We had a meeting with the department last week about the previous statements we made in the press,” Thole said at a small gathering of Salipswu members at the Galeshewe Open Air Arena.

“If the absorption takes place, we are demanding back pay as well as benefits.

“As a union, we will fight this battle to the grave. We have sent our grievances to both the minister and the MEC, but are still awaiting a response. Therefore, starting from tomorrow, we will be going on strike, with national and provincial support.

“At this stage, we aren’t going to say where or how we will be protesting but our aim is to shut down certain services in the Northern Cape.”

The spokesperson for the provincial Department of Health, Lebogang Majaha, said that discussions regarding the absorption of the CHWs continued.

“As the Office of the MEC, we have noted the fears and concerns relayed by the community health care workers across the Province,” Majaha said.

“Throughout our deliberations we have emphasised that the MEC will embark on a roadshow to meet with CHWs at district level, starting in the John Taolo Gaetsewe District on Wednesday (today).

“The MEC will announce her decision before the end of October 2018.”