Union threatens to shut city clinics over bonuses
THE SOUTH African Liberating Public Sector Workers Union (Salipswu) has threatened that all clinics in the city will be shut down if the Northern Cape Department of Health reneges on promises to pay bonuses to community health workers.
The provincial organiser of Salipswu, Thapelo Thole, said yesterday that the MEC for Health, Fufe Makatong, had stated in a press release, issued at the beginning of November that all registered and recognised community health workers (CHWS) would be absorbed into the Department of Health, irrespective of age and qualifications, while a 13th cheque would also be paid to CHWS.
“Some of them received the R8 500, however, others have not yet been paid, while deductions have been made from the money paid to others,” Thole said.
“Workers are demanding that the department must pay all the money owed to them by Friday or we will close all clinics in the city,” Thole said yesterday. “We cannot operate like this.”
He added that during meetings with the CFO it was promised that the issues raised by the workers would be addressed. “However, our members are now stating that the department has indicated that they will not receive their bonuses, despite the agreement that they would receive a 13th cheque.”
According to Thole, despite the directive from the MEC to the department to pay CHWS their bonuses, the latter was “now coming with reckless instructions not to pay these bonuses”.
“We are not fools and we are demanding that the bonuses be paid by no later than Friday. We are ready to close down the clinics for the entire month. We can no longer trust the department because after engaging them we are informed that they will not pay bonuses this month. If necessary, we will take them to the CCMA because we have evidence of this agreement.”
In a statement issued at the time of the announcement, the spokesperson for the Office of the MEC for Health, Lebogang Majaha, said that the MEC had met with trade unions representing CHWS.
At the meeting it was agreed that all registered and recognised CHWS would be absorbed into the department, irrespective of age and qualifications, on November 1 2018 and that the R1 000 owed to CHWS for five months will be back dated to the agreement date of June 22 2018 and be paid with their first R3 500 by November 30 2018.
It was also stated that a 13th cheque would be paid to CHWS as originally promised.
According to Majaha, the move came after government passed the Minimum Wage Bill in Parliament as law in June 2018.
“Following this process, the matter on the community health workers’ employment and remuneration was tabled at the Public Health and Social Development Sector Bargaining Council (PHSDSBC), wherein the resolution was signed by representatives of trade unions and the national Department of Health. This agreement binds the national and provincial Departments of Health, trade unions and their members, including community health workers who are not members of any of the unions and who fall within the registered scope of the PHSDSBC. The provisions of this agreement apply to CHWS for the duration of twelve (12) months upon the signing of this agreement, in June 2018.”
“The CHWS form part of the ward-based primary health care outreach teams (WBPHCOT) established to improve access to health care as they are intended to be the first point of entry to the health system,” Makatong said in the statement.
“They provide services such as child, adolescent and women’s health, basic preventative care and education, identify people at risk and report/refer to the clinic, support adherence in chronic treatment, early detection and intervention of health problems, illness retention in care of Hiv/tuberculosis (TB) infected patients on treatment and offer basic nursing care services.
“The CHW programme will contribute immensely to government’s effort towards achieving the 90-90-90 targets aimed for the year 2020, for early detection, treatment and retention in care for especially HIV and TB.”
According to Thole, the department had failed to respond to enquiries from the union regarding the outstanding payments.
The Office of the MEC for Health did not respond to media enquiries by the time of going to print.