Community health workers in North West halt strike pending negotiations

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Health Services in the North West have resumed after community health workers in the province went on strike last week. Workers affiliated to National Education, Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu) want community health workers to be permanently employed by the health department.

Community health workers affiliated to Nehawu in the North West embarked on protest action last week. They disrupted services at clinics and vandalised property. They say the provincial health department promised them permanent employment, but nothing has been done.

Secretary for Nehawu in the province, Patrick Makhafane, says more than 10 years has passed since they were promised that health workers would be absorbed by the department.

“Workers want permanent employment which is not delayed and until that is now delivered, really it will be very sad. You will not receive a stable service (sic) in the province and we are afraid and want to say this upfront. If two weeks (passes without) Job Mokgoro and Madoda Sambatha saying anything to us in relation to this matter, and in two weeks, if the president and the minister (do) not say anything in relation to this matter, Nehawu will then have to do programme, which will culminate in us switching off service delivery in public service completely.”

Spokesperson for the Health Department, Tebogo Lekgethwane, says negotiations with the union are ongoing.

“The process of employing community healthcare workers permanently has been at the chamber and the department is part of those negotiations and during those negotiations, the Department of Health in Gauteng decided to proceed and employ them permanently. That is what is causing the frustration of others.”

Community healthcare workers might have returned to work for now, but their union says the fight is far from over.