Numsa plans counseling workshops
While government has set out its plans to roll out the provision of anti-retrovirals, Numsa also plans its own roll-out of HIV/Aids counsellors.
According to Numsa HIV/Aids co-ordinator, Selina Tyikwe, workshops will be held across the country in all Numsa’s locals and regions from early next year to train people in counseling skills.
These workshops are aimed at Numsa staff, shop stewards or members who have a passion for tackling HIV/Aids, who are good listeners, who are not judgmental, who will keep all counseling sessions confidential and who will respect those who seek advice.
If you think you are suited to take on this challenge, contact your local Numsa office and ask them to keep a record of your name. The Swedish Metalworkers Union will fund the workshops. This will include paying for those that cannot get paid time off from work.
Administrator s in the forefront
The war against HIV/Aids is intensifying each and every day. It is a silent war. No guns nor tanks. Yet thousands are perishing daily, let alone the orphans that will be affected for the rest of their lives. Statistics are showing that 3,5 million South Africans live with HIV/Aids and there are 1500 new infections daily.
South Africa has an estimated 10% of the world’s total of infected. It is estimated that by 2010 approximately 15% of the skilled workers will be HIV infected. The ILO predictions are that an average of 15 years of working life will be lost per employee due to HIV/Aids. Future predictions of the impact of HIV/Aids in the workplace are:
the indirect cost (for a manufacturing company) could increase by 10% by 2005 and by 25% by 2010
by 2005 HIV/Aids could add 13% to a company’s remuneration budget and 26% by 2010
Numsa like any organisation that stands for the cause of the down-trodden, had to capacitate its shop stewards and staff members around this issue.
Since last year, Numsa has conducted HIV/Aids workshops in most Numsa regions and locals. The workshops were educative and informational and the participation was excellent. It really showed how serious and important do c omra des take the scourge of the epidemic. The workshop showed that T t hough some of the participants still lacked the basic facts around the disease . , W w idespread myths, stigmatisation and even discrimination regarding HIV and people living with HIV/Aids is are still prevalent amongst our people. ” HIV/AIDS walk with us. It travels with us wherever we go. It is there when we play sport. It is there when we sing and dance.” Declared President Thabo Mbeki, when he was launching the partnership against HIV/AIDS in 1998.
It was of vitally importance important that staff members attended, especially our administrators. They are the ones who are always in the offices when the organisers are in the field. “We are in the forefront,” says Queenstown local administrator , Comrade Nsiki, sounding like a commissar in a guerilla army . Whether workers have problems that deal with unfair dismissals, provident /pension funds, death claims, health and safety and so on , administrators are the first to grapple with their trouble s . This has resulted in close and intimate relationships develop ing between them and members. Some administrators even advise workers around personal problems.
The sole reason being that they are the ones who are always in the offices when the organisers are in the field. They give advice to members who come to the offices when they have problems from their workplaces. Comrade Nsiki, the Queenstown local administrator, sounding like a commissar in the guerrilla army when she described their role as administrators said, “We are in the forefront”. Be problems that deal with unfair dismissals, provident /pension funds, death claims, health and safety etc. they are the first to grapple with those issues. That has resulted in close and intimate relationships having developed between them and members. It will not be an exaggeration to think that they are even able to advice them on personal problems. But they are always “left behind”, According to Uitenhage local Administrator cde Bernice.
But are do our administrators have the necessary know-how or skills to be in a position to advi c s e and or give counseling to people with HIV/Aids related problem s ? What should therefore be their role in this regard?
” Yes,” says Bongi from Numsa’s Tshwane local. She even facilitated a HIV/Aids Workshop in her local as she enjoys “standing in front of people and train ing them.”
Others are not so sure , “I don’t know what I will do.”
“We should get training ,” says Joanne from Boland local. ” It is like so devastating to try and calm the person … and give assistance.” Dorcas from Richards Bay who once intervene d on behalf of an HIV positive member in one company also agrees that to be trained as HIV/ Aids counselors, “could be a good thing ” .
Workers can be advised on a number of HIV/Aids related issues, be it awareness programmes, unfair discrimination, employee benefits, the right to privacy and offering support and compassion to people living with HIV/ A ids. Our administrators h ave a major role to play in the fight against this scourge of the earth – HIV/Aids.
Cosatu welcomes government’s about turn
After years of bad blood between government and Cosatu over government’s refusal to fund anti-retrovirals for HIV/Aids sufferers, Cosatu has welcomed government’s recent announcement that it will provide anti-retroviral drugs in government hospitals.
“This promise brings hope to the thousands living with HIV, with the prospects of a healthy life for decades longer,” Cosatu said. While waiting for government to roll out its plan it promised that its affiliates in the health sector will “mobilise to support government’s plan”.
However, it urged government to do more to “restructure the entire health sector in order to both ensure more equitable access to quality care and control the overall cost of healthcare.”
Our administrators therefore have a big role to play on advising and or counseling our members and even members of their own communities. In one assessment session cde Agnes, a Klerkdorp administrator raised the issue as to why are administrators not trained to be HIV/AIDS Councilors? – Given the type of work they are doing. They need to be encouraged to attend workshops of this nature. It appears that not all administrators attended the last Workshop. When asked what would they do if a member approached them for an advice or help about HIV/AIDS related problems.
Responses were mixed from those who attended to those who did not. Others would just say, ” I don’t know what will I do.” The majority had never experienced or come across a member or members with that type of problem. Maria, a Wadeville administrator who participated in one of these workshops said that with the little knowledge she had she will be in a position to tell one what she knew about HIV and AIDS. But Cde Margaret from Nelspruit local, who had attended COSATU HIV/AIDS workshop, recently advised a member whose husband had died of HIV/AIDS related disease about what she is supposed to do. The situation was different with Bongi from Tshwane local. She has confidence that she won’t have a problem of counseling anyone. She even facilitated a HIV/AIDS Workshop in her local as she enjoys “standing infront of people and train them.” I am sure there are number of Bongis who need to be trained as both Councilors and Peer educators.
Sharing the same sentiments as others, cde Joanne from Boland emphatically remarked “We should get training…. It is like so devastating to try and calm the person … and give assistance.”And cde Dorcas from Richards Bay who once intervenes on behalf of an HIV positive member in one company agrees as well that to be trained as HIV/AID Councilors ” could be a good thing.” Workers can be advised on a number of HIV/AIDS related issues, be it awareness programmes, unfair discrimination, employee benefits, and the right to privacy and offering support and compassion to people living with HIV/AIDS. And that supports and cares for the infected and affected rest on the shoulders of women. Our administrators therefore have a major role to play in the fight against this scourge of the earth – HIV/AIDS.