EPWP BULLETIN #12 | EPWP Workers CAN Win Permanent Jobs

The Gauteng Government Must Extend the Agreement to Insource CHWs to All EPWPs

Protest on Monday 12 October in Johannesburg at the Office of the Premier

The campaign of Community Health Workers (CHW), led by the Nupsaw trade union, has resulted in a partial-victory. In August the Gauteng Department of Health agreed to implement a hard-won agreement to give all CHWs permanent jobs. As an interim agreement CHWs will earn R7,500 per month. The campaign for R12,500 will continue from a new position of strength as permanent workers. The MWP salutes the CHW workers and Nupsaw for this important victory.

The CHW programme was one of the ANC government’s slave-labour schemes, alongside EPWP, CWP and ECD. If the Gauteng Government can give the CHWs permanent jobs then it can also give all the other workers on its slave-labour schemes permanent jobs too! – including the EPWP! This is what the EPWP workers in the DID must demand. The CHW’s victory shows that mass struggle works (Nupsaw was organising the CHWs since 2012) and that it is possible to win permanent jobs. The march to the Premier’s Office on Monday 12 October is to demand exactly this.

The EPWP workers and the CHWs have been working together for some time. Many EPWP workers have joined Nupsaw too. The Gauteng EPWP Workers Forum and Nupsaw formed a joint Task Team to plan the successful march & night vigil at Union Buildings in February. The Forum must appeal to the CHWs to continue to stand in solidarity with their EPWP brothers and sisters.

Gauteng’s Tender Corruption

The ANC-led Gauteng Government has been caught profiteering from the pandemic. Whilst the EPWP workers and their families were starving, ANC politicians and businessmen were stealing R-billions from dodgy PPE contracts. Workers are told again and again that there is no money for permanent jobs or decent wages – but there is always money for more tenders!

UPDATE: Cat & Mouse Games in Court

The pandemic and lockdown were used by the DID as cover to cancel the contracts of EPWP workers. The pandemic and lockdown were also used as excuses in the Labour Court. Nupsaw made an urgent application to the Labour Court to stop the retrenchments of the EPWP workers. But the Labour Court refused to accept it as “urgent” – even though workers were starving! The judge said it must be heard at the CCMA first. But because of the lockdown, by the time the case arrived at the CCMA, it was past the “time limit” for retrenchment cases. Eventually, the CCMA accepted that the delay in referring the case to them was because of the lockdown. We are now waiting for a date for the case to be heard.

In the meantime, the Office of the Premier agreed to meet with Nupsaw and the Forum. This happened on 25 September. The EPWP workers’ demands have been submitted again and we are waiting for a response. The march on 12 October will put extra pressure to ensure they reply to workers and give the right answers.

Workers Movement

The EPWP workers must ensure they take their rightful place in the wider working class movement. The pandemic and lockdown has worsened South African capitalism’s political and economic crisis. The economy declined a massive 16% in the second quarter and 2.2 million jobs have been lost – probably more. In the public sector, permanent workers have had their pay rise withheld. There is enormous anger across the working class. Daily protests, in communities and workplaces, have increased from an average of two per day before the pandemic to eight per day!

This has all pushed the leaders of the trade union movements to call some action. On Wednesday 7 October, Cosatu has called a general strike against corruption. The Saftu federation, to which Nupsaw is affiliated has agreed to support it. Saftu has also called its own national strike on 2 December. The EPWP workers should support, and take part, in all of these protests.

We must continue pushing leaders, many of whom just want a quiet life, into leading a decisive struggle against the ANC government and its capitalist backers. These protests should not be one-off events but the start of a mass campaign. As well as raising their own demands, EPWP workers should support building a mass united working class struggle capable of ending capitalism and building a socialist society.

  • Cosatu out of the Tripartite Alliance!
  • Implement the Saftu and Working Class Summit Resolutions on the Workers Party.
  • Reinstate the Public Sector Pay Rise. For a Public Sector and SOE general strike!