Health workers protest at Lentegeur hospital

Unhappiness over payments and workers left jobless

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Community health workers demonstrated outside Lentegeur Day Hospital in Mitchells Plain on Wednesday. Photo: Vincent Lali

Dozens of Nyanga and Gugulethu community health workers demonstrated outside Lentegeur Day Hospital in Mitchells Plain, Cape Town, on Wednesday.

Placards read: “We want our jobs back” and “Stop exploiting community health workers”.

Vuyiseka Solani-Bibini, a shop steward at Anova Health Institute, said they had worked for St John’s Ambulance until its contract with the Western Cape health department ended. Some of them were then hired by Anova, which also hired South African Christian Leadership Assembly (SACLA) Health Project community workers.

Caroline de Wet, a manager at the hospital, received the memorandum. She said, “Every three years contracts with non-profit organisations are reassessed. St John’s Ambulance have not met the criteria to continue to get funding.”

Solana-Bibini said 21 of the St John’s workers had not been hired because Anova said their names were not on the Lentegeur Day Hospital’s list. Solani-Bibini said the workers did not understand this, since they had been on the payroll for years.

They want the health department to find employment for those who cannot get jobs with Anova.

Funeka Hala, who is now unemployed, said, “I have switched my fridge off because it is empty.”

She said the department had always transferred them from one organisation to the next when contracts changed, but didn’t do so this time.

Former SACLA workers signed contracts with Anova on 5 May and former St John’s workers signed on 18 May, said Solani-Bibini. But, she said, they were only paid from the date they signed, although they had worked from the start of May.

They want their full month stipend. Workers at Khayelitsha hospital, who signed contracts on 17 May with Anova, had been paid in full, she said.

The health department directed our queries to Anova.

Yonela Mbana, senior legal counsel for Anova, said, “Anova was funded by the department to employ a set number of community-based health workers in various nodes in Cape Town. Anova applied fair and transparent recruitment processes as part of the selection criteria. Anova hired the approved quota of staff. Negotiations and the issuing of contracts took a while and not all employment contracts were concluded by 1 May 2023. Anova is a caring and compassionate organisation and decided to use discretionary funds to top-up the stipends from 1 May 2023 – the contract start date. All affected staff have received this communication and will receive these funds in early July.”

TOPICS:  Health Labour

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