Trade union NEHAWU in the North West has called for the permanent appointment of community development workers. NEHAWU members marched in the North West capital Mahikeng, as part of the union’s National Day of Action.

Members in all the province’s four districts participated. The main march was in Mahikeng, where members demanded permanent appointments of more than 6 500 community health workers.

The union is also demanding that its members be supplied with sufficient Personal Protective Equipment.

“Community health workers have been temporary for how long already? So we are saying, we can no longer continue to negotiate the fact that community health workers are wanted by the employer in the Department of Health. and as it is, they are recording the stats that are being taken for COVID-19. Community health workers are playing a prime role in that. So we want permanent employment of community health workers,” says Nehawu Provincial Chairperson Elizabeth Mokua.

Nehawu members embark on a National Day of Action: 

Community health workers voice their grievances 

Some of the community health workers, who were part of the protest, say they have been working for the health department for over seven years now. They now demand permanent employment. “We work normal working hours for a minimum wage and that is very unfair because we provide a service that is comprehensive, that the department can not do without, ” says one of them.

Another community health worker says; “Community health workers are not being recognised in terms of skills development. The department has training and development for other employees who are permanent but community health workers are being discriminated against. So we are saying it’s high time they open doors for community health workers to be permanent so that they benefit from the skills development.”‘

Premier Mokgoro addresses protestors 

In responding to their demands, Premier Job Mokgoro said, “Leadership, I have heard you. I have a fellow Exco member here and we have other Exco members in various districts in our province. We have heard you, on behalf of the total collective and there is nothing that we can commit to, other than we have a moral responsibility to implement.”

NEHAWU has given authorities seven days to positively respond to their demands, failing which they have threatened to embark on a national strike from 10 September.