Victory won by gauteng community health workers – January 27, 2013

It was a happy day for Home Base Care (HBC) and Clinic Counselor (CC) workers when they received a letter from the Gauteng Department of Health confirming their wage increase of R1000 per month, from January 2013. The HBC workers now earn R2263.00 and CC workers earn R2500.00 per month. This was the second increase for HBC workers in 2012; the first increase was R63.00. After a long struggle, this was unbelievable for workers. The wages announcement was made at a general meeting of HBC and CC workers, held at the House of Movements on Friday, 8 February. The meeting was attended by 245 workers, mostly women.

In 2012 HBC and CC workers went on a 7-month strike for a living wage and other grievances such as working conditions, and absorption and accredited training by the Health Department. During the strike the workers were threatened with dismissal by their project managers. The strike is therefore a big victory for these vulnerable women workers.

The meeting agreed to form a regular Community Health Workers Forum, as a platform to discuss different issues and problems that affect HBC workers and not to wait till things get tough. The strike was the first time that HBC and CC workers worked collectively, and this was an important lesson for them. The workers thanked Khanya College for various support during their strike. For more information on HBC work, please call Juliet Kabe on 011 3369190.

Street sweepers strike continues

The street sweepers strike in Germiston which started on 28 September 2012, is still continuing. The 93 street sweepers were employed by LMM, a contractor to the municipality. The strike has no hope of ending until the sweepers’ demands are fully met. The strikers are demanding to be employed directly by Ekurhuleni Municipality as working for the subcontractor they earn an average R1 500 per month, whereas they would earn R6 000 a month if they were employed by the municipality.

The Germiston-based Casual Workers Advice Office Co-ordinator, Ighsaan Schroeder, said “Since the beginning of 2013 the municipality has employed two subcontractors, one of which is the employer of the striking workers.” He went on to say: “The municipality has opened up discussions with the striking workers and this is a good sign as they (the workers) are determined to remain on strike until the municipality employs them.”

During the strike there were allegations of collusion between the employer, LMM, the Metro Police and the South African Police Services. According to Schroeder this led to the harassment, intimidation and beating of workers. Four workers were also arrested for public violence, and this was later changed to malicious damage to property. Schroeder said, “It is clear that there is collusion between the parties, similar to what is happening to the farm workers in the Western Cape.”

Legal Clinic strenthens organisations

Recently Khanya College’s woman centre, Setsi Sa Mosadi, assessed the Mass Advice Day (MAD) that was held in Mampuru Community hall, in Dube, on 5 December last year. The MAD was implemented together with the local organisation, the Gauteng Concerned Residents (GCR) and six NGOs. The MAD is a legal clinic that makes human rights accessible to large numbers of people through providing them with legal advice. In this way large numbers of people get to exercise their rights.

The MAD was successful in that more than 230 people attended, but a lot of preparation work goes into the MAD. Before the MAD, Khanya implemented a process of consultation with GCR and the participating NGOs to ensure commitment and that all parties understand the aims of the MAD. Khanya and GCR also embarked on a door-to-door campaign in Dube, distributing pamphlets informing residents about the planned MAD. The GCR said that the MAD provided them with the opportunity to improve their organising skills and to raise the profile of the organisation in the township. For the NGOs that participated, the MAD provided an opportunity for them to also advance their work on housing, women, children and labour issues. The GCR believed that the MAD has helped them to strengthen their organisation.

The next MAD will take place on 27 February 2013, at Mampuru Hall, Dube. For more information please call Bongani Bunyonyo at Khanya College on 011 – 336 9190

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