Health workers jobless after Tshwane ends deal

The health workers who lost their jobs work in the municipality's Aids unit programme.
The health workers who lost their jobs work in the municipality's Aids unit programme.
Image: Stock Image

About 800 Tshwane Aids community health workers have been left in the lurch without jobs after the city terminated their contracts and appointed new recruits.

The health workers work in the municipality's Aids unit programme - multi-sectoral Aids management unit - which involves door-to-door visits to HIV/Aids-affected households and to ensure that outpatients take their ARV drugs regularly.

The workers told Sowetan yesterday that the City of Tshwane terminated their contracts in August and they were promised they would sign new ones three months later. But they were surprised to see new recruits doing their work from Monday.

The health workers, who earn between R2,000 and R2,500 a month, said they were expecting to be called to sign new contracts as had been the case for more than 10 years.

One of the affected workers, Happy Banda, 43, said the problem started in 2018 when the city introduced a system where their one-year contracts would be terminated before they lapsed and new ones would be signed after three months.

Banda said on August 29, the city gave them termination letters, which some of the workers signed because they were promised new contracts.

"I'm so disappointed that the city even today has not called me to renew my contract and now I don't know how I'm going to buy school uniform and stationery for my kids," Banda said.

"We've been to different departments, trying to get an intervention, but no one is coming to our rescue," said Banda.

The community health workers met in Mamelodi yesterday to discuss their way forward.

Some of the workers have more than 15 years working as community health workers and now they are left without jobs.

Another worker, Kenneth Khoza, 49, said: "I've been working since 2013 and now the city has terminated my contract and I don't know how I will survive without a job."

Khoza said the City of Tshwane sent him on a training course where he obtained a certificate as a qualified community health worker, but now he felt he was being dumped like a useless object.

Gauteng Treatment Action Campaign's Milton Ngobeni said they would be trying to find answers on behalf of the community health workers who were rendering an important service to those affected by HIV/Aids.

Tshwane spokesperson Lindela Mashigo said each peer educator received a copy of the signed contract which stipulated clearly that they are employed for only 12 months with a clearly written termination date, in this case it was the end of October 2019.

"The operational system has been such that at the end of every fixed-term contract, same be terminated from the remuneration system [SAP]. Such termination requires completion of a termination form as provided by the group human capital management department," Mashigo said.

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