The National Union of Public Service and Allied Workers (NUPSAW) will be meeting with senior officials from the National Health Department on Thursday in a bid to resolve the merciless and ceaseless exploitation of Community Healthcare Workers (CHW) and those contracted under the Extended Public Works Programme (EPWP).

NUPSAW wrote to the office of the Minister of Health on Monday out of a profoundly embedded concern for the rights and well-being of CHWs and EPWP contract staff.

It’s no secret that these two categories of workers render various pivotal services within the Department of Health, which include but not limited to (a) cleaning of clinics, hospitals and all health facilities and (b) the general administration, data-capturing, filing systems, queue-marshalling, landscaping or grounds-man work, clerical functions, etc.

Most of the duties outlined above are considered essential work. So we find it extraordinarily unacceptable and unfair that these workers are not permanently employed, despite performing work deemed permanent in nature. This is not only immoral but unlawful as the department’s conduct violates provisions of Section 198B of the Labour Relations Act 66 of 1995 as amended.

It is our view that the department has not and cannot demonstrate a justifiable cause for fixing the terms of the contract of employment for CHW’s and EPWP’s.

The office of the Minister has agreed to meet with NUPSAW representatives on an urgent basis, all thanks to the militant spirit shown by members of this organisation.

Scores of NUPSAW members gathered outside the Department of Health premises on Monday and refused to leave without a response.

After few hours of waiting under a sweltering heat in Pretoria, senior officials emerged from their air-conditioned offices and finally agreed on a date and time this week.

The Union will update members after the meeting.