Social workers

Social development department is boiling

Busisiwe Ndzipo

Thulisile Mngadi

Thousands of National Education Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu) affiliates workers countrywide recently downed tools in protest against an avalanche of grievances.

The strike has been ongoing since March 13 to date and was triggered by, amongst other things, the demand for up scaled salary wage for social workers and other members.

Outside the Department of Social Development in Joburg, the striking workers blocked the entrance, burnt tyres, ululating and chanting struggle songs.

This publication spoke to Max Mosole ( Nehawu’s branch chairperson) who told us that the working conditions were deplorable  mentioning that numerous issues of resources and issues of bargaining resolutions were not met by the Department .

He also stated that they have tried to engage with the ‘stubborn’ Minister Bathabile Dlamini on a number of occasions.

‘The Minister is arrogant and not willing to engage with us’-said Max.

Furthermore Mosole argued that social workers are not paid a market-related salary.

He reiterated that members were willing to strike forever and indefinitely until the minister and the department heed to their demands.

He also urged other members who were not on strike  to come and join the strike and support the cause.

Contrary to reports, Mosole expressed that this was a peaceful strike and no one was tortured as reported by other publications.

“There must be a rural allowance for the travelling social workers who work and visit families in peri urban areas. The entry level for social workers should be R33 000.”

Pressed about how much they currently earn.

He said “ Their salaries ranges from R14 000 to R15 000.  This is ridiculous considering the amount of work their doing on daily basis.”

Meanwhile the Gauteng Social Development department issued a statement appealing to workers exercise their right to strike and to be mindful of the communities and beneficiaries they serve.

The department’s MEC, Nandi Mayathula-Khoza told the media that labour issues are indeed important.

“But in addressing them let us not compromise service delivery and let the innocent beneficiaries suffer. We continue to appeal for non-violence demonstration free of intimidation as opposed to the current three-fold form of blockages at most institutions chains and locks at the gates, followed by huge stones and burning tyres as the 3rd form of barricade,” said Mayathula-Khoza.

The Democtratic Alliance (DA) joined the fray and condemned the strike.

Refiloe Nt’sekhe MPL, DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Social Development,


said the DA supports the rights of social workers to protest for better wages, but argued that  the ill-treatment of those that are placed in their care cannot be condoned.

“We will engage the MEC as to what steps her department has taken to address the current strike, and what emergency plans are in place to assist those who require the assistance of social workers.”




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