On 19 May 2021 33 un-contracted Community Healthcare Workers (CHWs) picketed at the Gauteng Provincial Legislature (GPL). The picket was part of the Gauteng Community Health Care Forum’s current campaign to make the Health Department give all un-contracted CHWs in Gauteng their jobs back.
The CHWs who are ‘un-contracted’ have been fighting to get their jobs back since 2016 under the then Gauteng Health MEC Ms Qedani Mahlangu. In 2018 some of our Tshwane comrades went back to work under Dr Gwen Ramokgopa, the MEC who was appointed after Mahlangu resigned. Ramakgopa instructed Mrs Lerutla in 2018 to reinstate all CHWs who were excluded from the employment contract signing process during the fight against Smartpurse in 2016. Yet today comrades are still excluded by the Gauteng Department of Health (GDoH) and are still fighting for their jobs.
More than three months ago on 8 February 2021, the Gauteng Forum submitted signed petitions to the office of the GPL Petitions Committee but up until today the Gauteng Forum hasn’t received even a reference number or a date for the case to be presented to the Petitions Committee. The office of the GPL has played delaying tactics and even requested to discuss the case over the phone, which is clearly against proper procedure.
According to a source in the office of Gauteng MEC for Health, Mrs Lerutla (Chief Director of District Health Services in the GDoH), in the week of 10-14 May presented a report to the GPL’s Portfolio Committee on Health, stating all CHWs in Gauteng have been absorbed into the system. She was asked if there are other CHWs who are currently excluded, and she responded that there are none.
The Gauteng Forum finds this very disturbing since we still have more than 140 CHWs who are still excluded and outside the system completely. It is very disturbing for Mrs Lerutla to present a false report to the Health Committee when she knows about the un-contracted CHWs case and was instructed in 2018 by the then Health MEC Ramokgopa to re-instate all CHWs excluded from the system.
The GDoH and the GPL have let our comrades down by denying them their right to have their jobs back. These CHWs have suffered enough from this unjust state. The GPL offices has been closed since last year under the Level 5 Lockdown. The officials are supposed to be working from home since then, but our case has still not been heard to date.
In all this time, the GPL has deliberately failed to call on the office of the Health MEC to account for their unlawful actions against excluded un-conctracted CHWs.
The Gauteng Forum demands the GPL open it’s offices so that our case can be heard. The Forum demands that the Chairperson of the GPL instruct the GDoH to implement their promise of re-instating the excluded CHWs back to their respective positions with same conditions as the current CHWs who are employed by the GDoH. As the Gauteng Forum we will keep fighting for un-contracted CHWs to be reinstated to work.
This article was submitted on 20 May 2021 and first published in the Forum News May-June 2021 edition. 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.