Workers join protest

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SOCIAL workers from the Chris Hani district boarded taxis at the Gardens Clinic on Sunday to join in a march of thousands of people in their profession to the Union Buildings in Tshwane.

Others marched to the social development department offices in Komani on Monday.

The workers are demanding better working conditions.

The protests are taking place without the participation of their respective unions.

Eastern Cape provincial spokesman,  Mzimasi   Bebeza , who spoke to The Rep, said the social workers were demanding the return of dignity to their profession.

PROTEST  MARCH: Social workers from the Chris Hani district marched to the social development department building, joining the  national   protest  action of social workers who had marched to the Union Buildings to hand over a memorandum requesting better working conditions, salaries and sufficient resources Picture: ABONGILE SOLUNDWANA © The Rep
PROTEST MARCH: Social workers from the Chris Hani district marched to the social development department building, joining the national protest action of social workers who had marched to the Union Buildings to hand over a memorandum requesting better working conditions, salaries and sufficient resources Picture: ABONGILE SOLUNDWANA © The Rep

The social workers released a statement on Tuesday evening thanking everyone who supported their cause.

“We would like to thank all the comrades, students, university lecturers and doctors, professors and colleagues who managed to make the historical march on September 19 and those who were with us spiritually. We have made it and our profession will never be the same again.”

The social workers were waiting for a response from the Presidency by October 31.

They said they would no longer use personal resources to render government services including their cellphones, cars and laptops.

A social worker at the Chris Hani regional office who wanted to remain anonymous and who was part of the 25 people from the region who participated in the march said empowerment was needed to assist the workers to help the poor and vulnerable.

 Bebeza  said Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamani had not been available to receive the memorandum.  Bebeza  said the injustice was that the council of social services practitioners charged an annual R450 fee for social workers to practise but failed to serve their best interests. This, he said, was evident in the poor working standards of social workers. “We have hope that there will be change from now on, on both national and provincial level. We will be looking to see if they will be responding in line with the memorandum we put forward.”

The social workers were fighting to have their own union. “We were affiliated to Nehawu because our numbers were small. It is time we have our own union as our numbers have grown.”

They sent condolences on to the family members of social workers, including a child from Cradock, who died on the way back. The Presidency had not responded to questions this week.

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