The Community Health Care Forum (Forum), an organisation formed to organise Community Health Care Workers (CHWs) and fight against the issues that they are experiencing as health workers in the clinics. The Forum also undertook to work towards a universal healthcare system and to serve the working class. The activists CHWs of the Forum also aimed to work towards a better healthcare system for the working class through the organising of CHWs as well as fighting together for their rights but also improving their political education to reinforce their methods of organising.
For this they have been attending political education sessions held by Khanya College but also organise study groups amongst themselves to read and discuss political readings. They also take time to discuss the issues that they are faced with in their clinics and communities.
Recently, CHWs attended the annual Winter School held at Khanya College. Many report that the experience was transforming for them and also helpful in their work.
Nomalizo Sizane, a community health care worker from the North West Forum said that her Winter school experience was being in a safe space and that she had a chance to look closer at the issues of the working class and learnt how to handle workplace problems.
Sizane said that not only was she learning but also had a chance to participate in the indigenous games that were facilitated by Khanya staff. She said she found the games to be very educational as well. Sizane enjoyed the group discussions and said the topics were rich. She also had a great time doing some field work.
“As the North-West Forum, we are reading better, we share with our colleagues and also discuss in groups”, said Sizane
The struggles that they ran into, when they went to Mafikeng, had to do with correct administration. One comrade did not fill in the correct information which they interpreted as sabotage. The North-West forum has to re-do an audit of all forms submitted for a case they have against the provincial Department of Health. They say that they are aware they also need a big number of CHWs or the case could stop in its course.
“We were thinking to remove the girl’s name out of the list but they [the Department] said the option is not possible, we have to write an apology. Otherwise, the Department will not trust us”, said Sizane.
Any mistakes or wrong approaches could be fatal for the case and sabotage the struggle for permanency for many CHWs. A moment this force of community health care workers will not allow.
The chairperson of the Gauteng Community Health Workers Forum, Zanele Nomdikinya, said that the Forum is working towards a healthcare system that would serve the working-class unlike the current system that is working against the working-class and it’s needs for proper healthcare services.
In different provinces the Forum works to mobilise all CHWs to form part of the National Legal case in pursuit of permanent employment by the Department of Health, and for full recognition of the CHWs by the Department and in clinics.
The Forum in Gauteng has managed to win permanent status for CHWs and now aims to recruit and make all CHWs permanent, nationally.
Nomdikinya said that “CHWs in Gauteng are doing the same work as the CHWs nationally, so if the Gauteng CHWs are permanent, why not nationally?”
“The Forum’s biggest achievements are the gains in membership”, said Nomdikinya. According to the chairperson, the Forum has been making a recovery since 2021. “Comrades were looking at the unions but are slowly seeing that unions are not for them,” she told Karibu!
In 2021, The Forum had roadshows, last year in the North-West and the Mpumalanga provinces recruiting over 2000 uncontracted CHWs from both provinces as additional to the national legal case.
Recently and for this year, another roadshow took place in North-West on 26 – 27 August 2022. The Forum managed to give feedback to other provinces on how their cases are proceeding. And, it also managed to help the other CHWs from North-West and Mpumalanga to fill in the forms handed out by the human right lawyers. They also held meetings and study sessions in both provinces.
The Forum is also dealing with unfair workplace treatment cases that are coming from different clinics. Currently, they are dealing with the case of G60(CHWs must retire at the age of 60 years of age, but nurses retire at 65) which is causing a lot of stress for CHWs nationally.
The Forum plans to build its own hospital and fight against the department of health that is uses the G60 system with which they fire and retrench people from the age of 60 years and older.
Nomdikinya also said that the CHWs get threatened by unions telling them to back-off and stop mobilising the fellow CHWs under the banner of the Forum.
“The case is in the hands of the lawyers, they had said that soon the case will sit”, reported the Gauteng chairperson.
This article was submitted on 26 September 2022. You may republish this article, so long as you credit the authors and Karibu! Online (www.Karibu.org.za), and do not change the text. Please include a link back to the original article.