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NC caregivers fear for their jobs

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The department was still in negotiations with labour and would be consulting with the CHWs in due course.

WORRIED: Thapelo Thlole from the South African Liberated Public Service Workers Union (Salipswu) spoke to more than a dozen caregivers on Friday after they expressed concern that they might lose their jobs. Picture: Danie van der Lith

AFTER many years of service as community health workers (CHWs), without a matric certificate, members of the South African Liberated Public Service Workers’ Union (Salipswu) believe that their experience qualifies them for permanent positions when their programme is absorbed by the Department of Health in September.

On Friday, more than a dozen caregivers expressed concern over the upcoming absorption of their programme as this would leave them underqualified on paper for permanent employment, doing their current jobs.

“Many of the affected caregivers have been doing this work for 10 and 20 years. Despite all this time in the position, 90 percent of them don’t have matric and may be out of a job when the absorption comes into effect,” explained Thapelo Thlole from Salipswu in the Province.

“Of the 2 600 CHWs in the Northern Cape, the department only want to absorb 1 400 which is simply not fair on those who have been volunteering for many years.

“Come September, we all want to be absorbed and won’t allow others, who weren’t CHWs, to be put into these positions.”

According to the members the current situation is causing friction between caregivers who had their grade 12 certificate and those who didn’t.

“Many of us originally started out as unpaid volunteers 15 to 20 years ago and have been providing services to the community for many years,” they said.

“We were told that when there is a vacancy, we would be the first to be considered. Unfortunately, we didn’t get this promise in black and white.

Spokesperson for the Northern Cape Department of Health, Lebogang Majaha, said that the department was still in negotiations with labour and would be consulting with the CHWs in due course.

“Our position has always been that the community health worker programme is an investment to the public health sector,” Majaha said yesterday. “As a result, there is a planned workshop to be conducted by the department this month, to deliberate extensively on concerns raised before the implementation process kick-starts.”