Unpaid Soweto health workers speak out

Unpaid Soweto health workers speak outFree State community health workers say they have not been paid in months following an April circular allegedly sent by Free State Health MEC Benny Malakoane.

Health-e speaks to several of health workers who have gone months without payment by the Gauteng Department of Health.

Read More

Lay health workers carry out the bulk of HIV counseling & testing in South Africa
Lay health workers carry out the bulk of HIV counseling & testing in South Africa

In 2013, the Gauteng Department of Health decided to assume responsibility for paying lay health care workers including peer educators, counsellors and home-based caregivers who had previously been paid by non-governmental organisations (NGOs). According to Gauteng Department of Health Spokesperson Simon Zwane, the decision came after health workers expressed dissatisfaction with the contractual arrangements they had previously with NGOs.

Health workers then signed a six-month agreement in which the Gauteng Department of Health will pay their monthly stipends however health workers will still report to assigned NGOs. These agreements are set to end in March 2014, said Khanyisile Zulu a Johannesburg community health care worker.

But according to Zulu, only some health care workers have been paid while others have been paid less than they earned.

The department has cited problems with health workers’ banking details for the delay and some health workers have reportedly submitted bank statements to the department in early January.

Health-e’s citizen journalism programme OurHealth spoke to three health workers from Soweto about how the delay in payment has affected them.

[quote float=”right”]”He keeps telling us how useless we are and that some of us are getting old in these NGOs. He will tell us to go and seek work at the retail stores.”

Lindiwe Maseko, home-based care giver: “I’ve had only two months’ salary since 14 December 2013.”

Lerato Moletsane, counsellor: “It’s hard and painful waking up everyday to come to work for almost four months without being paid since last October until now.

“This has affected me so much. My children and I had a black Christmas. Now my children need school uniforms and stationary. I can’t buy them because of this untruthful Department of Health. We had hope when we were asked to bring our bank statements in the beginning of January this year, but it is just the same.”

Thuli Mazibuko, counsellor: “We heard that others had been paid and we had this hope that maybe we will get our salaries before February but not now. Instead, it’s meeting after meeting that do not help us.”

Mazibuko alleges that one departmental staff member has had a particularly bad attitude with lay health workers:

“He keeps telling us how useless we are and that some of us are getting old in these NGOs. He will tell us to go and seek work at the retail stores.

“That makes us wonder if our work has no value to the community if the people representing government talk to us that way. They are forgetting our efforts to give back to the community.”

Read more Health-e coverage of the payment delay