Home News NC health workers set to join pickets in support of CHWs

NC health workers set to join pickets in support of CHWs

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The Betsy Gaetsewe Clinic in Galeshewe is one of the clinics that was closed due to strike action by community health workers. Picture: Soraya Crowie

HEALTH workers at state facilities, including hospitals, in the Northern Cape will be joining in lunchtime pickets on Tuesday in support of community health workers (CHWs) who are demanding to be absorbed as permanent workers by the provincial Department of Health.

National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) members embarked on strike action at clinics around the Province from November 11.

A march is planned to the Ministry of Health offices in Kimberley on Thursday.

Tyres were set alight outside some city clinics on Monday, while the doors to the facilities remained shut.

CHWs pointed out on Monday that they were supposed to have been absorbed two years ago already, and they have been denied benefits including “proper pay”, maternity leave, thirteenth cheques and tools of trade and safety during this time.

“We work under difficult circumstances and brave the harsh elements to give dignity to our patients. We only want to be brought in line with community health workers in other provinces such as Gauteng, where community health workers were appointed permanently,” they said.

Meanwhile, SA SA Liberated Public Sector Workers’ Union (Salipswu) provincial organiser Thapelo Thole claimed that care workers who were not participating in the strike action were being intimidated.

“Our members do not belong to Nehawu and are observing the ‘no work, no pay’ principle yet they are being threatened for carrying out their duties. We respect the rights of all workers to protest … we have been fighting the same battle for absorption since June,” said Thole.

Nehawu provincial secretary Steffen Cornelius pointed out that Nehawu members have been prevented from intimidating other workers by way of an interdict.

“I am also not aware of any of our members being responsible for burning tyres outside of clinics,” said Cornelius.

He confirmed that a march was planned for Thursday.

“We will be adhering to the Covid-19 regulations so the number of community health workers participating at marches in each of the five districts will be limited to the maximum number of people permitted at public gatherings. There will be members from De Aar and Springbok who will be traveling to Kimberley to join in the march to the Ministry of Health offices,” concluded Cornelius.

The Northern Cape Department of Health did not respond to media enquiries by the time of going to publication.