Too poor to care? The call for a minimum wage has exposed a sick system

This week, a panel of experts released its recommendations for a proposed minimum wage of R3 500 per month. In its report, the panel noted that care workers were by far the most likely to earn significantly below this threshold with wages so low that workers were in effect “subsidising the cost of these services through low-wage or no-wage work”.

This is hardly news to many of the country’s community health workers who continue to battle for regularised pay and benefits.

Gauteng community health workers recently marched to the department of health. The march was prompted by, in part, the department’s decision this year to summarily change the conditions of employment. These workers, who were paid directly by the department until March 2016, have been forced into contracts with Smart Purse, an outsourced payment management system. Essentially outsourced workers, they are not eligible for benefits such as paid maternity leave, state-subsidised pension payments and a myriad of other benefits afforded to government employees…..more and more

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