A circular was released in January stating that CHWs will be contracted for yet another 12 months lasting the financial year 2020-2021. Confirming that there was a message in the West Rand region to the OTLs (Ward-based outreach) from the Department of Health, team leaders said all CHWs to be ready with their CVs and certified copies for contracting.
All this is happening after CHWs won the arbitration case between them and the Department of Health three years ago. The Arbitrator gave an award which stated that the CHWs employment is definitely permanent status. But it seems the Department is not interested in honouring the Arbitrator’s award. This led to all CHWs that were deemed permanent to go back and see how they can force the Department to absorb them.
The current MEC, Bandile Masuku, misled CHWs saying that by April 2020 they would sign a once-off contract and will be absorbed by the Department. The MEC has set up
a ‘task team’ following a meeting of CHWs selected by the Department. According to the MEC these CHWs will form part of a team to “integrate” CHWs into the Department.
Under pressure from CHWs the MEC has defended his policy on twitter and Facebook. Gauteng CHWs have remained sceptical after former Health Minister Motsoaledi made similar promises of “absorbing” CHWs. CHWs say the MEC has to tell the Carers what ‘integration’ means and why should they wait for this ‘integration’ for so long.
Confusion is still widespread about whether the Department will force CHWs to sign another 1 year contract even when the Award says they are permanent. According to the MEC the Department needs CHWs to sign 1 year contracts so they can continue to be paid while he talks to ‘Gauteng
Treasury’ about their integration.
The Forum leadership has expressed its mistrust of the MEC and points to a long history of unfulfilled promises and of MEC and Ministers misleading CHWs. CHWs were also not encouraged the fact that at recent hearings on the National Health Insurance the parliamentary panel claimed not to know anything about CHWs and their conditions. The Forum leadership said it will soon launch a court case to force the Department of Health to implement the award and finally recognise CHWs as permanent employees of the Department.
Additional reporting by Forum FAJ.