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Press Statement. 14 July 2029

On Monday 06 July The United Eastern Cape Community Health Care Workers together with other Civic organizations handed over a Memorandum to the Eastern Cape Health Department. We delivered this memorandum to SG Thobile Mbengashe demanding amongst other things permanent employment for all community healthcare workers. 

However, after all this, no one was there to receive the memorandum including MEC Sindiswa Gomba. Until we as United CHWs were adamant and clear that we will occupy the offices EC DoH until they come to receive our memorandum. After we as United Community Health Care workers arrived there at 08:00 am, SG Mbengashe came to receive the memorandum at 5pm, this after by the way the United Health Care workers promised to occupy those offices until they come receive our memorandum.

This again proved to us as CHWs how we are so undervalued by this department, and the important work we do for communities. This proved to us that although we are at the forefront in the fight against TB and HIV, and now against COVID-19 the department of health still undervalue our work, and to this we demand an end.

Enough with the contractual, precarious employment of all Community health care workers in this province. We are the Community Health workers in the Eastern Cape with an abnormal PERSAL number that disadvantages us (CHWs) from accessing social grants, RDP houses, including from NSFAS for our kids etc as we are registered as government employees. We are workers who are committed in providing best health services to all community members in need. We have mobilized ourselves again because of the suffering and ill treatment by the department of health and we are hoping for a better treatment and a point of departure for this better treatment would be permanent employment for all CHWs. Community health workers at the hands of the Eastern Cape Health department have been through these precarious conditions for more than 20 years, working and servicing communities in all clinics and hospitals under contractual employment as early as 1992 up to 2012 under municipalities back then and only getting paid R700 and a loaf of bread. In 2012 CHWs started working under health department with the salaries gradually increasing as we are now seating on R3500 rand with no benefits, no UIF, no pension funds nothing only signing contracts each year. Some CHWs have more than15 years – some more than 10 years in the service, and for how long my we face this indignity? 

It is time now that the health department stop abusing us as CHWs and absorb all of us permanently. We have been marching and submitting grievances all these years and getting no answers from you. 

We are now demanding action. We demand permanent employment. We demand a normal PERSAL numbers with all benefits that are enjoyed by all health workers. CHWs have all the experience and we have been committed all these years. Even during this most difficult time where the entire globe is hit by the COVID pandemic, we are still committed. We reemphasize the fact that we are the same CHWs who are doing Covid-19 screening and doing house visits for TB / HIV / MDR and other related sickness assisting with treatment and motivating defaulters. Many of our colleagues get infected by these viruses due to the shortage of personal protective equipment. 

Some have exited the service by death due to succumbing to the deadly Covid-19 diseases, and this is a great time to honour them by providing permanent employment for all CHWs. Some exit through retirement and all left with nothing in their hands to leave behind for their families and children with all the years of service. 

We believe that this is all because of corruption and the exploitation by the Eastern Cape Health department to CHWs. Health department must stop its violation of basic conditions of employment, stop the violation of the labour relations act, stop casualisation and the precarious work we as CHWs are subjected to – this is enough KWANELE! We cannot be signing contracts since 1992 till today. We want and demand permanent employment. We are tired of your games, we deserve to be treated with dignity. 

It is under these imperatives that we as United CHWs march again to Bisho demanding an answer to our memorandum it has been now 7 days since we have been waiting for an answer to our memorandum, but dololo impendulo, and this to us indicates in every way how our work and the work we are doing for communities is undervalued by this department and we as United CHWs demand and answer and an end to this mistreatment now!