Home News We will make the system ungovernable, warns health union

We will make the system ungovernable, warns health union

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The memorandum of demands would include the provision of three T-shirts, three trousers or skirts, two pairs of comfortable shoes, winter jackets, sun-shield caps, umbrellas and backpacks to each CHW.

Workers are demanding the provision of three T-shirts, three trousers or skirts, two pairs of comfortable shoes, winter jackets, sun-shield caps, umbrellas and backpacks to each CHW. File image. Picture: Cindy Waxa /AFRICAN NEWS AGENCY/ ANA

THE PROVISION of work uniforms, two pairs of comfortable shoes, umbrellas and post-retirement benefits of R60,000 are some of the items that will be included on a list of demands by striking community health workers (CHWs).

A number of clinics in the Northern Cape have not been operating since November 11 when CHWs affiliated to the National Education, Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu) embarked on strike action, demanding to be permanently employed by the Department of Health.

Marches will also be held in all five districts of the Province on Thursday and memorandums will be handed over.

A march will proceed from the Kimberley City Hall, starting at 9am, to the offices of the MEC for Health, while union members will also march from the community hall in Nonzwakazi to the De Aar Hospital, from 10am.

Workers will converge at the Progress Clinic and proceed to the Dr Harry Surtie Hospital in Upington at 12pm.

A march will also take place from the Mothibistad garage to the Kagisho Health district office at noon.

Nehawu national spokesperson Khaya Xaba said the memorandum of demands would include the provision of three T-shirts, three trousers or skirts, two pairs of comfortable shoes, winter jackets, sun-shield caps, umbrellas and backpacks to each CHW.

He stated that CHWs should also be entitled to benefits such as medical aid, the unemployment insurance fund and the provident fund.

“Government must make provision for a once-off payment of a pro-forma post-retirement benefit of R60,000 for CHWs who are older than 60 years and those who are eligible for ill-health retirement,” said Xaba.

“Government will be given seven days to accede to our demands. Failure to respond positively to our demands will leave us with no option but to intensify the strike and render the system ungovernable.”

Xaba added that the union was fighting for the permanent employment of all CHWs across all nine provinces on salary level 3, with full employment benefits that were similar to government employees whose conditions of service fall under the Public Service Act, with immediate effect.

He also called for the finalisation of the standard operational procedure regulating the recruitment, selection, appointment, placement, remuneration, skills development, dispute resolution, occupational health and safety processes and absorption of CHWs into the health system.

“The employment and or payment of CHWs’ stipends through non-governmental organisations must be discontinued with immediate effect.

“All CHWs who are already in the system and are eligible for permanent appointment, without Grade 12 qualifications, must not be eliminated , They should be recognised for prior experience and prior learning to assess basic skills.”

Xaba pointed out that CHWs played a critical role in the provision of primary health care in townships and rural areas.

“During the hard lockdown they conducted mass screening and testing and worked overtime without extra pay as promised. We will not rest until all these workers are paid for their overtime work during the hard lockdown.

“These workers have served our country with dedication and commitment. They are exposed to the scorching sun, rainy weather and cold; where they provide health care especially to the elderly, disabled people and children who cannot access clinics and hospitals.”

Xaba added that CHWs would undoubtedly be called in to assist the most vulnerable patients if coronavirus infections soared again.

“They will be expected to screen, test, treat patients and disseminate information to communities. The government cannot continue to exploit these workers by paying them a meagre R3,500 that they have been receiving for years.”