‘It’s time workers were taken seriously,’ union says
Hundreds of members of the National Union of Public and Allied Workers (NUPSAW) and other unions marched to the Departments of Health and Social Development and National Treasury in Pretoria on Tuesday.
The NUPSAW, backed by the South African Federation of Trade Unions (SAFTU), the General Industrial Workers Union of South Africa (GIWUSA) and the South African Police Union (SAPU), is demanding higher wages high and permanent employment for contract workers.
Among the marchers were community health workers, cleaners, security guards and workers in the expanded public works program who believe they are being exploited.
In lists of demands addressed to the Departments of Social Development and Health, the workers demanded permanent employment and the filling of vacant positions. They want the National Treasury to allocate funds to departments to meet their demands.
NUPSAW Chairman Monwabisi Titus Daniso said departments take the work done by these workers for granted. “Pay negotiations are still at the Bargaining Council, but the issues need to be resolved. If our demands are not met, we will continue. It is time the workers were taken seriously,” he said. .
According to NUPSAW Secretary General Solly Malemo, a resolution was signed in 2018 with the understanding that community health workers would be absorbed, but to date this has not happened. They continue to earn an allowance of R3,500, he said.
SAPU spokesperson Lesiba Thobakgale said the demand for an 8% increase as opposed to the 2% offered by civil service employers would not only benefit health workers. “With the high cost of food, fuel and rising inflation, what will workers do with 2%?” asked Thobakgale.
After delivering the memoranda to the departments, workers headed to Union buildings where they held a nighttime vigil ahead of the mass shutdown and marches scheduled for Wednesday.
The departments have seven days to respond to workers’ demands.