CHWs still exploited


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The West Rand, more Community Health Care Workers (CHWs) are being exploited by West Rand Municipalities and WRAP. WRAP is an NGO based at Lebanon Mine, Westonaria. And other 100 CHWs are in Merafong municipality. Only 16 managed to file their case with the Public Health Social Development Sectoral Bargaining Council (PHSDSBC) in Centurion, Pretoria last year, for dismissal without notice, which is unfair. There are also a further 68 CHWs working under Westonaria municipality where only one filed her case with PHSDSBC under unfair dismissal.

When the writer went to see what the CHWs are doing, he says that they walk through the back alleys even if it is raining, through long grass, mud and unhealthy environment due to the sewer spillages. However, the CHWs are focused on the work they are doing. West Rand District Health officials who are responsible for them do not care, they only look at the statistics. These CHWs earn less than the National Minimum Wage (R3 500). And this is a violation of the law.

They have not been paid since February 2019, but they were submitting their statistics monthly to officials. The Ward Base Volunteers are giving their time for the patients instead of taking care of themselves. The situation could be a lot better if officials do their job.

There is a problem with the government especially after the termination of the 12 months fixed term contracts which had been rolled out for more than 10 times. Although far from meeting the value which the Carers produce for the country in terms of saving government expenditure in primary healthcare, the fixed term contract at least left the workers with something in their hands.  

“I consider that as a slavery wage,” said Bongeka Nonjabe, a CHW in Westonaria, referring to the current situation in her area.

Officials are reducing the employment, but carers are not reducing their love of their work. The volunteers are usually female youth and officials are exploit them through very little stipends they pay them, affecting entire households. Volunteerism in this case only deepens their poverty as many share their food with the patients they visit. Caregivers do much more than nurse the sick.

The West Rand, more Community Health Care Workers (CHWs) are being exploited by West Rand Municipalities and WRAP. WRAP is an NGO based at Lebanon Mine, Westonaria. And other 100 CHWs are in Merafong municipality. Only 16 managed to file their case with the Public Health Social Development Sectoral Bargaining Council (PHSDSBC) in Centurion, Pretoria last year, for dismissal without notice, which is unfair. There are also a further 68 CHWs working under Westonaria municipality where only one filed her case with PHSDSBC under unfair dismissal.

When the writer went to see what the CHWs are doing, he says that they walk through the back alleys even if it is raining, through long grass, mud and unhealthy environment due to the sewer spillages. However, the CHWs are focused on the work they are doing. West Rand District Health officials who are responsible for them do not care, they only look at the statistics. These CHWs earn less than the National Minimum Wage (R3 500). And this is a violation of the law.

They have not been paid since February 2019, but they were submitting their statistics monthly to officials. The Ward Base Volunteers are giving their time for the patients instead of taking care of themselves. The situation could be a lot better if officials do their job.

There is a problem with the government especially after the termination of the 12 months fixed term contracts which had been rolled out for more than 10 times. Although far from meeting the value which the Carers produce for the country in terms of saving government expenditure in primary healthcare, the fixed term contract at least left the workers with something in their hands.  

“I consider that as a slavery wage,” said Bongeka Nonjabe CHWs in Westonaria, referring to the current situation in her area.

Officials are reducing the employment, but carers are not reducing their love of their work. The volunteers are usually female youth and officials are exploit them through very little stipends they pay them, affecting entire households. Volunteerism in this case only deepens their poverty as many share their food with the patients they visit. Caregivers do much more than nurse the sick.

Caregivers need psychosocial support because their work is exceptionally stressful on a physical, psychological, social and economic level. They typically also take over domestic chores, offer counselling, provide child-care services to sick parents, organise material support and food for affected families, help patients and their relatives to access social grants.  The government should set aside a budget for regular caregiver salaries and make home-based care a career, similar to that of government-employed community health workers. And the African National Congress-led Government and Merafong municipality should stop exploiting the volunteer using system. Aluta Continue!!!

Caregivers need psychosocial support because their work is exceptionally stressful on a physical, psychological, social and economic level. They typically also take over domestic chores, offer counselling, provide child-care services to sick parents, organise material support and food for affected families, help patients and their relatives to access social grants.  The government should set aside a budget for regular caregiver salaries and make home-based care a career, similar to that of government-employed community health workers. And the African National Congress-led Government and Merafong municipality should stop exploiting the volunteer using system. Aluta Continue!!!

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