DEPARTMENT of Health in KwaZulu-Natal became the first department to implement the minimum wage of R3 500 before President Cyril Ramaphosa signed the documents.Community Care Givers (CCG) received the minimum wage last Friday and KZN Health MEC Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo met with them to give them the good news.These CCGs, who were coming from different places in KZN, did not only receive the minimum wage, but they got their back pay dating back from June this year.Previously, CCGs were getting a stipend of R1 500 a month. Dhlomo said the money earned by the caregivers was minimal. He said they make a huge contribution and what they are doing is a calling.“They would use the small amount of money that they were earning to assist the community by buying residents food and small things that they needed. That shows how dedicated they are to their jobs. We are not saying that this R3 500 is the end for them, but if our funds as a department are raised every year, we will raise their salaries as well. This is just the minimum. We are trying to bring back the dignity to South Africans because they cannot earn less than this while they doing this job.“What makes us more happy is that community caregivers are now under the Department of Health and they have personnel numbers which means that when the government employees get paid they will also get paid the same day,” he said.Dhlomo also revealed that as the department they have started training the retired CCGs as staff nurses as a way of thanking them for the contribution that they made while they were earning R1 500.“We have trained 865 people now. We also have 430 people that have been trained as the nutrition advisers. [In total] 10 771 community caregivers from all over KZN benefitted. You can not complain that there is no money, if the money is not there we need to go and look for the money to help them so that we can bring back their dignity,” he said.Provincial secretary of Cosatu, Edwin Mkhize said they are very pleased with the department’s decision. He said CCGs are very important in the community as they make a huge contribution in changing people’s lives.“They do their work with passion and they need to be encouraged all the time,” he said.