West Rand CHWs Forced to Work Without PPEs

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“We are working without PPEs [Personal Protective Equipment],” said Gale Mdluli (not her real name), a Community Healthcare Worker (CHW) who works in Zuurbekom (on the West Rand of Gauteng). “[We are] being exploited by the West Rand District municipality.”

More than 20 CHWs working in a clinic in Zuurbekom are currently being mistreated by the West Rand District Municipality.

“There are those CHWs who work under the Department of Health, and we are those CHWs who are working under the [District] Municipality. This municipality does not provide us with PPEs like, masks, and sanitisers. We are forced to buy our own PPEs,” said Mdluli.

“The employer [District Municipality of the West Rand] is one who is responsible for paying for all PPEs, and correct clothing must be supplied to all employees,” said Lillian Nhlapo, the Gauteng Community Health Care Forum Organiser.

The lack of PPEs places employees at an increased risks of illnesses yet many municipalities are not adhering to the Covid-19 rules and regulations.

“All CHWs working, whether under municipalities or not, are at risk of being exposed to Covid-19, and as per covid-19 rules and regulations protocols, all healthcare workers must be provided with adequate PPE by their employers,” Nhlapo added.

According to Nobantu (not her real name), also a CHW based in Zuurbekom, many CHWs in the area have not been paid according to what CHWs in the province should be. The municipality in the West Rand is paying them R2800 per month, yet the minimum wage is R3500,” she said.

“We are not provided with our payslips, and we are not even allowed to have copies of our contracts. This is been happening since January 2019. When we asked they threatened to fire us,” she added.

The CHWs in Zuurbekom, with the help of the Gauteng Forum and the Khanya Legal Advice Office team, will file this matter with the relevant council to make sure that all the municipalities are working according with the labour laws and respect the covid-19 rules, regulations and protocols.

“CHWs provide households and communities with education, and a range of health and social services like early screening, tracing and referrals”, said the Forum and Legal Advice Office Organiser Mzwandile Maila.

“They must be provided with the necessary PPEs to serve the community properly.”

This article was submitted on 28 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.

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