Pretoria - Hundreds of community health workers will for three days next week camp at Church Square as unions representing them disagree over what’s best for them.
The National Union of Public Service and Allied Workers (Nupsaw) said its members would be outside the offices of National Treasury.
The organisation has also distanced itself from the ongoing strike by the National Education, Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu) to highlight the plight for community health workers and push the government to absorb them, with benefits.
However, national organiser for the union Solly Malema said Nehawu did not have numbers in the sector and was using the strike as an attempt to recruit community health workers.
He said: “We represents thousands of community health workers across all nine provinces and were offended with the dealings of Nehawu.
“We have been the only union that has constantly taken up the fight for them to be recognised as public servants. The removal of our union from the Public Health and Social Development Sectoral Bargaining Council was not an accident; today they are collaborating to roll back gains made in respect of community health workers.”
He said their struggle within the bargaining council was proof that in 2019 Nehawu and the Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa rejected their 13 225 community health workers, joined by Health & Other Services Personnel Trade Union of South Africa and the Public Servants Association of SA.
He said initially the employer was also rejecting them until they took the employer to court and were ordered to submit a consolidated list of their members irrespective of their employment status, and it was these numbers that would reflect their true majority and ensure they had a seat in the bargaining council.
“We are the majority union in the sector and are on the ground mobilising our members to strike in order to end this austerity measures imposed on them.
“We are also launching an application with the Labour Court to declare the community health workers permanent employees of the Department of Health,” he added.
Nehawu spokesperson Khaya Xaba rubbished Malema’s claims and called the rival union a “fly by night” trying to have a seat at the desk by claiming credit for work done by Nehawu on behalf of community health workers.
He said: “Nehawu has for many years championed the campaign for health transformation and introduction of the National Health Insurance; they have never been part of this struggle.
“The government in 2011 launched the model for re-engineering public health care through the following streams such as ward-based primary health-care outreach teams, school health teams and district clinical specialist teams
“Therefore, community health workers are the first line of support between the community and various health and social development services.
“We are aware that Nupsaw has been misleading community health workers into believing that they are the ones who fought for their inclusion and yet they never contributed to the campaign for the National Health Insurance and the development of the policy framework and strategy for ward-based primary health-care outreach teams.
He said it was public knowledge that Section 7 of the Public Health and Social Development Sectoral Bargaining Council constitution required that a trade union must meet a threshold of 30 000 members to be admitted to the bargaining council.