South Africa, Cape Town – A group of community health workers (CHW) around the metro on Wednesday staged a protest outside the legislature offices to deliver their memorandum.
The workers embarked on a five-day stay away with pickets outside community clinics from Monday.
The workers are demanding better pay, absorption into the Health Department, and recognition as playing a vital role in healthcare provision.
Sector committee member of Western Cape CHW Kanyisa Bunyonyo said the department had failed to absorb CHWs on a permanent basis in line with the Public Health and Social Development Sectoral Bargaining Council resolution 1 of 2018.
“While some provinces have taken steps to comply with the resolution, this was not the case in the Western Cape. The Western Cape government’s refusal to recognise CHWs as public servants is viewed as undermining the standardised employment conditions of CHWs as per the resolution. We have submitted more than 10 memorandums to her (MEC Nomafrench Mbombo) office and every time she refers us back to the NGOs that are also denying us as employees,” he said.
Bunyonyo said the workers were recruited by NGOs, however they were not privy to the relationship between the NGOs and the department.
A community health worker at Masincedane in Strand, Bongiwe Chipeio, said they had been exploited and undermined by the department and the NGOs while they continued to selflessly provide healthcare services under harsh and unsafe conditions – and most of the time with no proper working tools.
“Other workers are overloaded with work that is outside our scope and these functions change constantly. We get robbed and run the risks of getting raped, work without proper personal protective equipment,” she said.
Mbombo’s spokesperson Nomawethu Sbukwana said in the absence of an approved or funded National Community Health Worker Human Resource Plan, the department contracted NPOs who, in turn, employed community health workers.