Resolutions of the National Union of Care Workers of South Africa

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.

 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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