Protecting the rights of care workers

Protecting the rights of care workers

As we commemorate World AIDS Day, we stand together with the 78 million people who have become infected with HIV and remember the 35 million who have died from AIDS-related illnesses since the first cases of HIV were reported. We also celebrate all the passionate and dedicated carers who have given and still give so much in supporting those with AIDS and other diseases.

You may remember that our April 2015 newsletter reported  on a Labour Court case in which it was ruled that community health workers (“CHW’s”) engaged by the Gauteng Department of Health (“GDoH”) on fixed term contracts were employees and not independent contractors and that the “stipend” paid to them fell within the definition of “remuneration” contained in the LRA.

This case highlighted that such care workers, performing a vital role in providing health and social care for the most vulnerable sections of our communities, are employees and that they therefore have the rights of employees.

Well, as the culmination of many years of self-organising, during which workers created forums in the major urban centres to engage government and the NPO’s that employ them on the issues of exploitation and job insecurity that they have faced, the National Union of Care Workers of South Africa (NUCWOSA) has now been formed.

Between 23rd and 25th November, 80 care workers from all nine provinces (drawn from both the health and social development sectors) gathered in Johannesburg to form the union.   Officials expressed confidence that the union would soon be registered and be able to play its part in defending the status and living standards of workers in the sector, in which wages for most continue to be less than R2265 per month, with some earning as little as R1000.

We wish all care workers, and their new union, well on this important day and salute their tireless efforts to bring health and social care to so many of our homes and communities.

Paul, Cathy and the Ziyo Team