Workers left with mixed feelings

2015-08-12 06:00
REV. NICHOLAS NDAYI speaking on behalf of the volunteers during the meeting of the MEC for Health, Mac Jack, and head of department Gugulethu Matlaopane, with community health-care workers (CHW) and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) within the Fr

REV. NICHOLAS NDAYI speaking on behalf of the volunteers during the meeting of the MEC for Health, Mac Jack, and head of department Gugulethu Matlaopane, with community health-care workers (CHW) and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) within the Fr

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THE meeting of Mac Jack, the MEC for Health, and head of department Gugulethu Matlaopane, with community health-care workers (CHW) and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) within the Frances Baard District, still left the volunteers with mixed feelings.

The hopes of many volunteers were rather dashed when the MEC only promised to look into their grievances and respond to them “in written form”.

They were hoping that the Department of Health was bringing responses regarding their biggest concerns, which were constant delays in their stipends, absorption into the department, benefits and security in their working environment, as well as the adequate training of CHWs.

The meeting, which the department stated in a press release was well appreciated by the NGOs, was held on Monday, 27 July, and was part of developing a new turnaround strategy in swiftly dealing with challenges facing CHWs and NGOs in the province.

Speaking to some of the volunteers and councillors, it was clear that they were not impressed by the announcement that they were going to get an increase from R1 900 to R2 020.

On the day of the meeting, the CHWs had already not received their stipend, which they were supposed to have received on the 25th.

“This was just an insult to our intelligence, because we have been repeating our concerns for a long time, but the department will not listen to us,” said one of the councillors.

“The role that we play in terms of providing provincial stats does not even account to that so-called increase.”

According to Lebogang Majaha, the ministerial spokesperson at the department, the visit came after some CHWs had engaged the MEC during his visits to districts, wherein they raised serious matters pertaining to their working conditions.

According to the volunteers, they expected to have been recognised by and incorporated into the health system by now, especially considering the fact that they worked hand in hand with the nurses as well.

“We are being exploited by being given targets only to get good reports, T-shirts and jackets.

“All the MEC could say concerning monetary issues was that we would get our R500 increase in 2016.

“He did not even explain to us when or how often we get an increase,” said one bitter volunteer.

According to the CHWs, they are being exploited due to the fact that they cannot afford to fall under any union.

Touching on these issues, among others, at the meeting the MEC applauded the attendees’ boldness and wisdom in the manner in which they had raised their issues in an attempt to turn the situation around.

He further alluded to the fact that consultation between government and specifically the NGOs was key in order to optimally address matters relating to health care in the province.

“Our core function is to save the lives of our people; supporting, empowering, motivating and giving recognition to your good selves as community healthcare workers form part of an ongoing process in our quest to improve and provide quality health-care services to our people,” Jack said.

Matters relating to the shortage of surgical sundries and protective gear will be addressed going forward and the MEC cautioned the CHWs to refrain from taking such important goods for themselves.

In mapping a way forward, the MEC requested to be given plenty of time to respond to other issues in writing, after he had completed his road show to other district meetings with CHWs

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