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Nehawu threatens to render SA health system ungovernable if demands aren’t met

The union has held marches in parts of the country to demand that the workers be permanently employed.

© herraez/123rf.com

JOHANNESBURG – The National Education, Health and Allied Workers' Union (Nehawu) on Thursday threatened to render the health system ungovernable if government doesn’t respond positively to their demands on the employment of community healthcare workers.

The union has held marches in parts of the country to demand that the workers be permanently employed.

Currently, the workers are on contract and they receive a stipend of about R3,500. But Nehawu wants them to receive the same benefits as all other government employees.

The Union’s Khaya Xaba says they have given government seven days to respond to their demands and they are not taking no for an answer.

He said government needed these workers especially as COVID-19 infections continue to rise and said patients might have to bear the brunt if government didn’t accede to their demands.

“As we’re facing a second wave, it’s in the interest of government to ensure that these workers are given what is due them. This includes overtime payment for the work they did during the hard lockdown – especially on the mass testing and screening.”

Xaba said Thursday’s marches were a success: “We were happy with the turnout and hopefully this will encourage other workers in other sectors to stand up for their issues and not allow exploitation by employers.”

He said workers would not be able to assist in the same way they did during the first wave of the pandemic and that government had a week to respond.

“For upcoming surges and second waves, they can’t be expected to do their jobs again. Not only because they are underpaid but also because they don’t have working tools or protective clothing or uniforms.”

Nehawu threatened to go on strike indefinitely if they weren’t given what they want.

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