Forced to sign with Smart Purse

Members of the National Union of Care Workers protest against salary payment delays. Credit: WWMP.

An outsourced company has been failing careworkers in Gauteng.
After protesting for three months against their employment being outsourced by the Gauteng Department of Health, community health care workers including those in Alexandra said they have given up the fight.
They eventually decided to sign up with the outsourced company, Smart Purse, because they were locked out and not allowed to work.

Smart Purse is a service provider hired by the Gauteng Department of Health to pay community health care workers. The care workers demanded not to be outsourced and to fall directly under the Department of Health’s employ so that they can have a secure job and other related benefits. One of their claims against Smart Purse was the irregular or inconsistent wage payments and sometimes no pay at all.

“I’m a breadwinner of seven children. Sitting at home without work was very difficult so on the 5th of August I signed with the Smart Purse after three months on strike,” said one of the workers who asked to remain anonymous.

She said so far the money had been coming every last day of the month. She was not paid for one month and lodged a complaint. Smart Purse has since promised her the matter will be attended to. She said she received her money through an e-wallet facility.

The 50-year old mother said she has been a community health care worker for 12 years and her duties include visiting chronic patients infected with TB or HIV to help them take their medicines. She has been allocated five families to look after at a nearby informal settlement called Stjwetla in Alexandra, works six hours a day Monday to Friday, and earns R2,500 a month as a stipend.

She felt very relieved on hearing that more community health workers have signed with Smart Purse and will start working on 1 November.

“This will help offload the work. There is too much work and there are only few of us,” she said.

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Anna Manamela, a community care worker who said that she was willing to sign up with Smart Purse after staying at home for 6 months without a job. Credit: Ramatamo Wa Matamong.

Anna Manamela is one of the workers who didn’t sign with Smart Purse. If indeed health workers will be given an opportunity to sign on the 1st of November, though, she said she’ll do so.

“I’ve been without work for six months. It’s very tough,” said the 42-year-old mother of two who has been a community health worker for 14 years. She specialises in HIV counselling and testing at the local clinic in Alexandra. Even though she doesn’t like to fall under Smart Purse she said that she doesn’t have a choice. “I’ll fight it inside,” she said.

Called to comment on the issues facing community health care workers, provincial spokesperson on health, Steve Mabona, asked to be sent an email but quickly admitted there are challenges and the department was working on resolving them. He was yet to respond to detailed emailed questions at the time of going to print.

Smart Purse was not available comment. According to their website, they pride themselves as being an efficient payroll master with a flawless service record.

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About Ramatamo wa Matamong 15 Articles
Also known by his pen name as Ramatamo Wa Matamong, born in the Free State Province, he is an award winning community journalist in the Alexandra township who has covered numerous and extensive topical issues in the township ranging from sports, politics, arts, service delivery protests, strikes, health and economics.