Since 2010, the government has introduced “Re-engineering” of Healthcare in South Africa. They have focused mainly on rolling out this new system in three streams of primary health care (PHC):

  1. a ward based PHC outreach team for each electoral ward;
  2. strengthening school health services; and
  3. district based clinical specialist teams.

The Ward Based Outreach Teams (WBOT) are to be made up of 6 carers, a professional nurse, an environmental health practitioner and a health promoter. Currently there are about 70,000 Community Health Workers (CHW’s) and the government is reducing the number to 45,000.

THIS MEANS THAT MANY OF US WILL BE RETRENCHED IF WE DO NOT ORGANISE AND RESPOND.

We support improving the health care system but not by dumping us. We need more CHW’s not less. We must campaign for improving the public healthcare system by government investing more resources into it and NOT LESS. The NHI must ensure that rich people and private healthcare is taxed more to invest in public healthcare for the majority of our people. WE CANNOT ALLOW EXPERIENCED CARERS TO BE DUMPED.

We Demand our Workers’ Rights and a Living Wage

As care workers we provide a valuable service to our communities and society at large yet we are suffering with several problems. These problems include low wages, a lack of labour rights that most other workers have because we are treated as “volunteers”, hard and sometimes dangerous work without health and safety protection, no social protection and benefits like retirement funds and medical aid and unfair contracts of employment.  

We deserve to be treated like professional healthcare workers. Like all other workers, we need and deserve a living wage and decent working conditions.

Why do we have these problems?

Over the years our employer (the government) has grown the number of care workers to improve healthcare for our communities and to deal with the bigger demands on the system caused by poverty and the HIV & Aids pandemic. However, the government has recruited us as “volunteers” and many of us are outsourced to be employed by NGOs. This has meant that we are paid very low wages (stipends) and do not enjoy the workers’ rights and protections in the country’s labour laws.

The government has used us as very cheap labour in the healthcare system to save and cut costs and to do work that better paid healthcare professionals would otherwise have done. WE NEED AND DESERVE DECENT EMPLOYEE STATUS AND A LIVING WAGE!

We must Unite and Organise

On 23 – 26 June 2015, a national meeting was held in Johannesburg of representatives of care workers in all provinces. We decided that the best way for us to improve our situation and win our rights is to form our own care workers union.

We plan to launch our union late next year (2016) with a big membership. In the meanwhile we will register the union and represent care workers to employers.

We need to organise, organise and organise and UNITE - build our national, democratic and independent union – the National Union of Care Workers of South Africa.

Attend NUCWOSA meetings and give your mandate for us to demand and Fight for Union rights, a living wage and NO Retrenchments.

NUCWOSA contact persons

Province        Name & SURNAME Contact number
Eastern Cape Pinky MAKINANA    064 591 2966
  Ruby MUTSI    073 604 6730
Free State Palesa NKOE 081 069 1486
  William MORE 083 765 6267
Gauteng Thandi VILAKAZI 078 952 5188
  Mapule LLALE    079 746 0079
  Khosi GANAMFANA    073 406 8806
KwaZulu-Natal    Muzi MZOYI    083 331 4484
Limpopo Colbert HLONGWANE 078 080 9185
  Lucy RABOPHALA    079 310 1424
  Clarah MAHLANGU    073 733 6447
Mpumalanga Bonga THUBENI      072 649 7687
  Annastacia MAGOBOSHA 079 903 3504
  Enoch MBATSANE    079 396 9322
Northern Cape    Nombulelo 074 561 4467
  Dikgetsi 072 155 7933
North West   Bella SEETETSO 083 412 1174
  Simon RAMAPUPUTLA 078 189 9132
Western Cape   
   
Nobuntu MFENGWANA    063 434 0752
  Noluthando MATSHOBA 076 047 5606

 

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Adopted at the inaugural congress of NUCWOSA, held 23 – 25 November 2016 in Kempton Park, Johannesburg

On Occupational Health and Safety issues affecting Community Care Workers (CCW’s)

Noting

  •  that CCWs work under dangerous circumstances, such as harsh weather, dangerous community settlements/ areas and difficult terrain like rivers, forests and game reserves;
  • that due to the nature of our work, we fall victim to crime such as rape, assault, injuries and infectious diseases such as TB and HIV to mention some;
  • that CCWs come from poor black communities and about 90% of us are females,

and believing

  • that there is a direct attack on the working class by the government and that the poor are exploited for the benefit of the ruling class and business;
  • that the patriarchal capitalist behaviour of our government is an indication that government does not care about women and contributes to our oppression,

 we therefore resolve to:

  1. Develop a campaign focusing on our occupational health and safety (OHS) and related labour rights at the workplace to sensitise and raise awareness about our rights as CCWs;
  2. Develop information sheets and videos on OHS to share on Whatsapp and other social media platforms;
  3. Partner with organisations that provide education and support on (OHS) to assist us;
  4. Develop a specific set of demands regarding our OHS for collective bargaining with employers and to assert our rights in relevant labour laws such as the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA).
  5. Influence the DoH to partner with the SAPS, Community Policing Forums and Traditional Leaders to provide protection to CCWs who do fieldwork;
  6. Advocate for security personnel to be provided at all clinics;
  7. Develop a campaign for the development and maintenance of a database that captures our issues relating to OHS;
  8. Demand that transport be provided to CCW’s, particularly for those in rural areas walking long distances and those in known unsafe areas.

 
On the Growth and Development of NUCWOSA

RESOLUTION ON REGISTRATION

  • Noting that registering NUCWOSA with the Department of Labour (DOL) is critical for the future of the Union in that the need to be a legally endorsed bargaining agent for care workers is dependent on achieving this legal status,
  • and believing that being registered is now achievable in that the legal requirements for registering the union have been clearly spelt out by DOL,
  • we therefore resolve to carefully follow the guidelines set out by the DOL as captured in the email dated 14 October 2016 from WWMP to the DOL with the following additions:
  1. Feedback to the general membership regarding the congress should be completed by the end of January 2017;
  2. The registration documents should be submitted to the DOL preferably by the middle of January 2017 but no later than the end of January;
  3. Contracts should be signed with organisers to be identified by the NOBs;
  4. Examples of employment contracts (two per branch) together with the Labour Court judgement confirming the employee status of care workers should be submitted;
  5. Leases should be signed with WWMP in respect of the use of portions of WWMP offices in Cape Town and Johannesburg;
  6. The newly elected NOBs should be responsible for the submission and monitoring of the registration process.

 RESOLUTION ON MEMBERSHIP

  • Noting that the present membership of NUCWOSA is around 5,000 and that future membership growth is vital for the sustainability of the union, both in terms of its ability to empower workers and win benefits for care workers in all sectors and to build an effective financial base, and further noting that tens of thousands of care workers remain outside of trade unions and are subject to extreme exploitation and abuse by the state, NGO/NPO and private sectors,
  • and believing that NUCWOSA is the best vehicle for such workers to achieve their rights,
  • we therefore resolve the following:
  1. That NUCWOSA recruit care workers in the health, social development and child care sectors;
  2. That the general secretary be responsible for general administration and the capturing and monitoring of membership;
  3. That the union obtain assistance from SACTWU and NUMSA with WW assistance to set up an efficient administration system and as soon as is practically possible employ a national administrator.

RESOLUTION ON RECRUITMENT

  • Noting that tens of thousands of care workers remain outside of trade unions and desperately need effective trade union representation, and noting the many obstacles to achieving this goal (such as worker disappointment with other unions, union rivalry, intimidation by employers, lack of resources),
  • but believing that it is NUCWOSA’s duty and responsibility to offer a home to all care workers,
  • we resolve the following:
  1. To build a national recruitment campaign which starts at branch level but which is planned at branch, provincial and national level with appropriate structures and strategies to be devised at each level;
  2. Every member and shop steward to participate in this campaign;
  3. Targets should be set at each level and be monitored by the relevant structures;
  4. These targets to be set after research is completed into the number of workers and work places in each branch/province;
  5. These targets to be set by the end of January 2017.

RESOLUTION ON SUBSCRIPTIONS

  • Noting that subscriptions are vital for the financial health of the union and that NUCWOSA needs to become self-sufficient as soon as possible,
  • and believing that the union must prioritise this aspect of operations,
  • we resolve the following:
  1. The current constitutional subscription fee of 1% of wages be adhered to once stop orders are negotiated;
  2. While hand collection of subscriptions is continuing, the flat rate of R20 per month should remain in place;
  3. All monies earmarked for NUCWOSA by funders should be deposited in the NUCWOSA bank account;
  4. The union should have three signatories from the NOBs (these being, the president, the general secretary and the national treasurer) with any two being empowered to sign off expenditure;
  5. As a temporary measure, until NUCWOSA has full-time officials, Workers World Media Productions (WWMP) should check each proposed disbursement of funds to ensure that expenditure is relevant, reasonable and in line with union policies and resolutions;
  6. Strict financial controls should be put in place and WWMP should assist in drafting a budget as soon as possible;
  7. Quarterly financial reports (income and expenditure) must be submitted to the NOBs for distribution to the provincial and branch structures.


On union staffing, the role of national office bearers and support NGO’s like WWMP

 Noting

  • NUCWOSA is not financially ready/ stable to have full-time employees,
  • NUCWOSA members have not been paying subscription fees as expected,
  • There is a commitment from elected leaders/officials to continue the work of NUCWOSA (recruitment, lobbying and negotiations) although there may be time limitations.

Believing

  • Full-time employees might dominate the Union and compromise worker control, we need to have a well capacitated team of office bearers to ensure that this does not happen.
  • Upon the registration of NUCWOSA and obtaining organizational rights, collecting subscriptions will not be a problem – this money will sustain NUCWOSA in future.

Resolves

  1. Elected leaders must be trained in Union organising with the assistance of WWMP;
  2. More effort must be put into collecting membership fees to ensure that the Union remains functional and can support our organising, education/training and administration costs;
  3. Establish partnerships with care worker unions in other countries so that we learn from each other;
  4. Develop strategic partnerships with other organisations to advance the struggle of care-workers and assist us in various areas to build NUCWOSA;
  5. We mandate our NC and NOB’s to review and negotiate the terms of our service agreement with WWMP for administrative, organising, training and media support for 2017 and beyond.


On the struggle for a Living Wage, Job Security and decent Conditions of Work

RESOLUTION ON THE STRUGGLE FOR A LIVING WAGE

Noting that:

  • The current ‘stipend’ differs for caregivers in the various provinces;
  • Government has enough money to pay caregivers a Living Wage and benefits especially since over R46billion per year of our taxpayers’ money was wasted through mismanagement and corruption by government leaders and officials;
  • Government has elected a panel for a national minimum wage (NMW) of marginalised workers that excludes us as caregivers.

Believing that:

  • Government can afford to pay decent salaries rather than poverty level stipends;
  • Department of Health (DOH) and the Department of Social Development (DSD) to employ caregivers permanently as part of the state’s public service;
  • Caregivers should be taken into account for the NMW which should be at least R6500 per month or R38 per hour.

We therefore resolve:

  1. To embark on a campaign to demand from government a Living Wage of R6,500 per month for all care workers.


RESOLUTION ON JOB SECURITY

Noting that:

  • Care givers should be employed permanently by the department of DOH and DSD;
  • A national policy for the upliftment of care givers has been submitted to national treasurer;
  • Super-exploitation is engendered by NGOs and outsourcing;
  • Government has prepared and implemented the “re-engineering of healthcare”, a policy which aims to reduce the number of CCW’s from 70000 to 45000, without consulting CCW’s;
  • The Gauteng DOH has outsourced the employment of CCW’s to a private company, Smart Purse, and forced CCW’s to sign new employment contracts by applying an unlawful lockout in defiance of a Labour Court decision to follow procedures in the Labour Relations Act.

Believing:

  • That government can afford to pay caregivers a decent salary;
  • That the DOH together with DSD should make a proposal to the national treasury to release a national policy on caregivers that accommodates all our demands.
  • Outsourcing government responsibilities to NGOs and NPOs must be brought to an end, so as to stop exploitation of caregivers.

We therefore resolve to:

  1. Combat outsourcing through various forms of industrial action;
  2. Enforce the release of the national policy on care givers;
  3. Fight and defend CCW’s from super-exploitation and job insecurity;
  4. Continue campaigning to end the Smart Purse contract in Gauteng and all other instances of outsourcing.

 
RESOLUTION ON THE SECURING OF DECENT CONDITIONS OF EMPLOYMENT

Noting that:

  • Care givers do not enjoy provident fund, medical aid, housing allowance, and other social benefits;
  • Care givers struggle to make ends meet on the mediocre stipend we earn;
  • The cost of living is too high for most of caregivers who are breadwinners.

Believing that:

  • All caregivers should enjoy provident fund, medical aid, housing allowances and other social benefits;
  • The government should subsidize caregivers in meeting their social needs;
  • The government should cushion caregivers against the ever-rising cost of living.

We resolve:

  1. To apply mass action in fighting for provision of provident fund, medical aid and housing allowances and other social benefits;
  2. To place the demand for care givers salary to relevant bargaining councils and employers and where possible join such collective bargaining structures;
  3. To fight for a Living Wage in our quest to improve the living standard of care givers.


On changing CCW’s status to ‘Employees” and other worker rights

Noting that:

  • We as Community Care Workers are not recognised by our employers as employees;
  • We are therefore not registered under the Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act;
  • Lack of recognition of labour laws for care workers e.g. Leave (Paid Maternity, Paternity, Family, Study, Sick, Annual and overtime) greatly affects the living standards of CCW’s;
  • Lack of staff development holds back CCWs from realising their full potential and denies patients/recipients of the fully professional care they deserve.

Believing that:

  • Government should cut out the ‘middle men’ employers (e.g. NGOs) and employ us directly in the public service;
  • Interference by government officials & ministers in the tendering system must end;
  • Government should draft policies for CCW’s in consultation with CCWs and our unions;
  • CCW’s should have a decent minimum wage of not less than R6,500 per month;
  • Employers should not act unilaterally – nothing for us without us.

We therefore resolve that:

  1. We should be fully engaged in all processes that involve us eg the drafting of policies by government;
  2. We be recognised as permanent government employees with full benefits;
  3. NUCWOSA must begin campaigns that will focus on Occupational Health and Safety issues, a meaningful minimum wage and a Living Wage;
  4. We demand Performance Management Development System (PMDS)
  5. Government end outsourcing and labour broking;
  6. CCWs receive clear written contracts and be given time to study the contact before signing;
  7. CCWs receive recognition on the professional nurse level after appropriate training and support provided by government;
  8. Stipends, meagre travel allowances and food parcels no longer be given to us as compensation for the work we are doing;
  9. NUCWOSA be recognised by the employers and Department of Labour;
  10. CCWs receive an annual bonus (thirteenth cheque).

 

On Government’s Re-engineering of Healthcare: Outsourcing, Retrenchments – and its impact on CCWs and our Communities and on the need to build a United Front of CCWs

RESOLUTION ON RE-ENGINEERING OF HEALTH CARE

Noting that:

  • In 2010, the department of health implemented re-engineering and its purpose was to cut the numbers of community health workers from 70,000 to 45,000 nationally;
  • The system has divided care workers;
  • There is no national policy that covers community care workers;
  • CCWs are used as cheap labour for an essential service that is very much needed.

And believing that:

  • The status of community care workers employed directly or indirectly by public, private or voluntary sectors must be upgraded;
  • The professional status of CCWs must be promoted through training and other mechanisms, including recognition of prior learning;
  • We must strive for full employment in quality jobs and be protected from unfair dismissal and retrenchment.

We therefore resolve to:

  1. Mobilise, recruit, organise and elect shop stewards in all provinces;
  2. Engage the employers (social / health), politicians, internal and external stakeholders and the community at large;
  3. Obtain media coverage (tv, print, radio – community, commercial and public) of our mass actions;
  4. SADEC- invade the meeting by planning a national march to the summit;
  5. Join the Eastern Cape annual march and give NUCWOSA visibility.

 
RESOLUTION ON OUTSOURCING

Noting that:

  • Outsourcing (sub-contracting) creates too much red tape;
  • It is a key element in the re-engineering system that is exploiting workers;
  • It ignores long service rendered by workers;
  • It is a source of corruption within the system and is the face of an extreme form of capitalism;
  • Workers don’t have access to the banking facilities provided by the outsource service providers;
  • Implementation of outsourcing varies from province to province because there is no national policy protecting workers in the sector.

And believing that NUCWOSA must:

  • Improve the status of care workers;
  • Organise all workers employed directly or indirectly by the health and social development networks;
  • Strive for all care workers to be employed directly by the state.

We therefore resolve to:

  1. Engage and bargain collectively for the improvement of workers wages and other working conditions through the strengthening of a united front movement of all care workers and other workers affected by outsourcing;
  2. Immediately identity all provincial stakeholders or organisations sharing the same objective.

 

RESOLUTION ON RETRENCHMENTS

Noting that:

  • When retrenchments are implemented, workers are sent home empty handed;
  • We are forced to re-apply for our jobs without prior notice;
  • The criteria used automatically cuts the number of workers and increases the workload for those who remain.

And believing that:

  • NUCWOSA must strive for full employment and protect workers from unfair dismissal and retrenchment

We therefore resolve to:

  1. Train shop stewards to be more informed and knowledgeable about labour law;
  2. Get support from other legal entities eg paralegal services;
  3. Promote the professional status of workers through training;
  4. Instruct all branch secretaries to submit a program for shop steward training before the end of December 2016 and implement it from January 2017.


RESOLUTION ON RIVAL UNIONS/ORGANIZATIONS

 Noting that rival unions/organisations:

  •  Are fighting NUCWOSA;
  • Misleading our members and sabotaging our mission and weakening our struggle by causing division;
  • Defrauding workers by using NUCWOSA’s name to collect money.

And believing that:

  • Their interest is not the workers interest but a desire to increase their membership at all costs and remain self-appointed leaders forever;
  • They are influenced by political/capitalist’s agendas

We therefore resolve:

  1. To engage and bargain collectively;
  2. To take all necessary steps to protect members rights and advance their legitimate interests;
  3. To recruit all CCWs into NUCWOSA;
  4. To identify rival unions and other supporting structures/forums and devise strategies to counter their negative actions;
  5. To educate our members by February 2017 about the importance of forming united fronts with those unions/forums that are genuine about the workers struggle.

 
RESOLUTION ON THE FORMATION OF A UNITED FRONT OF CARE WORKERS

Noting that:

  • It will help us to work together with supporting structures/trade unions who are genuine about the CCW struggle because ‘divided we fall’;

And believing that:

  • NUCWOSA must take all necessary steps to protect members and advance their legitimate interests;

We therefore resolve that:

  1. All provincial structures must identify rival trade unions and supporting struggles to form a united front for the sake of workers struggle;
  2. We must engage with the community at large and all other parties directly and indirectly involved in our work;
  3. We must support the struggle of other marginalised workers;
  4. We must popularise our union to other structures in the struggle.

Youth development

Young people are in crisis across the world, facing high levels of unemployment, precarious and exploitative work, and exploding costs of education. This is such a pronounced global trend that many political commentators have predicted that disenfranchised young people may form a new, international revolutionary sub-class that may initiate mass insurrection. Certainly, young people with nothing to lose have been at the vanguard of political uprisings across the planet: from Occupy in the West, to the Indignados in Spain, Yo Soy 132 in Mexico, the student uprising in Chile and the Arab Spring.

Young people in South Africa are equally disenfranchised, but have not yet had an adequate political outlet or mechanism to express and address their grievances. We believe it is important to work with them to help them get organised to develop and articulate a political voice, so that they can fight for their own interests as young workers.

We have organised a labour film festival every year since 2006. Films that focus on labour or issues of concern for the working class are taken on a roadshow and shown around the country, in cooperation with local unions, community organisations and NGO’s. The film shows are public events that include discussions and education. Our film festival takes labour films deep into working class communities to reach people where they live.

Our most recent festival was hosted in 11 different townships and cities in South Africa. Over the years we have tried unsuccessfully to persuade our partners in neighbouring countries to similarly initiate labour film festivals there.

This is an outreach project to address capacity and support problems in the labour movement and poor communities. As mentioned before in this report, many trade unions have neglected basic shop steward training and development. This has a real impact on our effectiveness, because it reduces the pool of empowered and capable activists we can engage with.

In addition, because of the lack of properly trained shop stewards, many trade unions are failing to adequately service their members, for instance with legal advice. Despite some misgivings, we felt it was necessary to provide structured institutional support where unions are failing to do so directly.

To address this deficit we developed two media, education and advice centres- LAMECs. These are physical hubs which act like social centres in the townships of Khayelitsha (outside Cape Town), and Alexandria (outside Johannesburg). We have worked with a very wide range of organisations to develop the capacity of the centres. These have included trade unions and labour service organisations, community organisations, environmental campaign groups, paralegal advice NGOs and others like unemployed youth who have gravitated to the centres.

We identified serious capacity issues among trade union and community activists, and decided to embark on a mass education programme, covering everything from basic shop steward training, political education through to paralegal support and media development. During 2010 we partnered with Cosatu’s national education desk and launched the campaign at a national conference attended by over 200 representatives (see Declaration of the Mass Education Conference held during 13–16 April 2010).

The education campaign has many facets and is delivered in different ways as outlined below, primarily via Labour-Community Media  Forums (LCMF’s) and Cosatu Locals at community level. Unfortunately Cosatu’s participation in the campaign has been inconsistent, weakening the achievement of our goals. Nevertheless we have persevered and have had good co-operation from unions at regional and local level.

Subcategories

Southern Africa Worker Educator's Network

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100 years of the Russian Revolution

 Vision
“To have an informed, organised and mobilised working class acting in its own interests.”

 

 

Mission
“To provide quality, relevant and informative media productions, access to the media and education and training for the labour movement and working class people.”

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