Nehawu threaten indefinite strike if community health workers not made permanent

Workers affiliated with the union are expected to go on a nationwide strike on Thursday demanding government permanently employ workers and pay all government benefits.

Nehawu briefs the media on 24 November 2020 on its planned march over nonpayment of salary increases for public servants. Picture: Kgomotso Modise/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - Amid fears of a second COVID-19 wave, the National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) on Tuesday said that government did not permanently employ community healthcare workers, they would go on strike indefinitely.

Workers affiliated with the union are expected to go on a nationwide strike on Thursday demanding government permanently employ workers and pay all government benefits.

Community healthcare workers are pivotal in South African communities, where many cannot go to clinics or hospitals as they are too far away.

ALSO READ: Nehawu: SA’s overstretched healthcare system won’t survive second COVID wave

Nehawu general secretary Zola Saphetha said that stopping these services independently would have a detrimental effect on communities.

“It’s worse now because we are dealing with this potential second wave. What helped us in the previous lockdown levels was massive screening and testing which was really led by community health workers,” Saphetha said.

He called on government to give benefits to all of the currently employed community healthcare workers.

“Government must make provision for a once-off payment of retirement pension benefits of R60,000 for community health workers who are older than 60 and those who are eligible for ill-health retirement,” Saphetha said.

Saphetha said they would be closely monitoring the meeting between the Health minister and all nine MECs on Thursday.

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