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Cape trade unions march demanding plight of healthcare workers is taken seriously

Nehawu, supported by Cosatu and the SA Communist Party, marched to the Western Cape legislature on Tuesday. Picture: Leon Lestrade/African News Agency/ANA.

Nehawu, supported by Cosatu and the SA Communist Party, marched to the Western Cape legislature on Tuesday. Picture: Leon Lestrade/African News Agency/ANA.

Published May 25, 2022

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Cape Town - Trade unions are demanding that the province start taking health-care workers’ plight seriously.

National Education, Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu), supported by Cosatu and the SA Communist Party, marched to the Western Cape legislature on Tuesday.

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A memorandum of demands called for the end of outsourcing, absorption of community health-care workers, and protections for health-care workers such as a “damage allowance”.

The SACP’s Western Cape provincial secretary, Benson Ngqentsu, accused the government of racism. He called it a government for white people.

Last year, the SACP visited hospitals in the Western Cape and found that many communities did not have access to 24-hour health facilities. Health-care workers also raised the issue of under-staffing at facilities.

Ngqentsu said: “Ambulances, when you call them, must not take more than an hour because it is expensive for a poor worker to hire a car of a neighbour to (travel to) a clinic or to hospital.”

Security should be provided for ambulances in the absence of danger allowances. A collaboration between the police would ensure that hospitals and clinics were provided with sufficient security, he said.

Nehawu provincial deputy secretary Lucky Bobape called for the insourcing of health-care workers.

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“We are seeing that health-care workers cannot work on contracts for too long. We want them to be insourced by the government because we need them. We’ve seen in the Covid-19 pandemic, we were outnumbered. There were a lot of problems.”

Nehawu provincial secretary Baxolise Mali said – although not in support of Operation Dudula – should the province continue to employ foreign nationals, they would take action.

“At the rate in which unemployment and poverty is so high in the Western Cape you continue to employ foreign national citizens. It’s scandalous. And if it is not addressed, we’ll have a sort of Operation Dudula that is within the limits of the law.”

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Cosatu deputy chairperson Andile Ngqaneka said Nehawu had its full support. “Very sound demands that you have put down and very important points that you have raised with this government, but the unfortunate part is that you are raising those on deaf ears.”

Department of Health and Wellness Labour Relations deputy director Rebecca Mohamed said the memorandum would be given to its principals and they would respond to Nehawu as soon as possible.

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