Careworkers demand better working conditions

Community careworkers marched through the streets of Johannesburg to the Department of Social Development calling for better working conditions. Pic by Dibuseng Phaolane

Care workers are classified by their employers as volunteers and not employees. As such, the proposed minimum wage does not cover them. They get paid less than R2,000 a month. If they fall pregnant, women are forced to quit their jobs or take unpaid leave.

Johannesburg, Gauteng, South Africa

Thousands of community care workers from different regions in Gauteng gathered at Gandhi Square in the early hours of Tuesday, 15 August 2017. The majority of them being women, they were determined to take their fight for labour rights the Department of Social Development. These workers, young and old marched peacefully to deliver their memorandum which was jointly compiled by managers of NGOs, workers and National Union of Care Workers of South Africa (NUCWOSA) leaders in Gauteng .

When workers approached the busy streets of Johannesburg, street hawkers and store owners fearfully closed their shops in fear of their shops being looted or vandalized by the protestors.  The key issue that they are fighting for is recognition. Care workers  are classified by their employers as volunteers and not employees. As such, the proposed minimum wage does not cover them. They get paid less than R2,000 a month. If they fall pregnant, women are forced to quit their jobs or take unpaid leave.

Furthermore, they are demanding that the Department offer them accredited training instead of what is offered, which does not enhance their employment prospects.

The memorandum was read and delivered by NUCWOSA president, Makhosazana Ganamfana. Ganamfana said community care workers do an essential service in Black communities but they are not recognized. To win recognition, she said, they ended up organizing care workers from the Health and Social Development departments under a newly registered union of community care workers.

The Department was only given 10 days to respond to the workers’ grievances.

Also read:  Careworkers in Khayelitsha march for better working conditions

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