There is an association for every alternative health discipline. Thus, if alternative health practitioners are qualified in more than one alternative/natural health discipline, they find themselves registering with each association, council or society, often spending a huge amount of money. Dianne Lang, for one, is registered as a member with 7 (seven) associations/councils which means that money has to be paid to each one every year. That being said, Dianne has not registered for every modality for which she is qualified in because the cost becomes exorbitant. This is a huge expense which few can afford.
Further to this, there is the competition between the associations, each of which promises to deliver certain things or to give you certain status or authority to practice. A quick search on the net will show you how many of these associations are operating in South Africa.
A number of therapists have received letters from the Allied Health Professions Council of South Africa (AHPCSA) stating that they are practicing and/or teaching without the necessary registration and if they do not stop they will be prosecuted. This is a serious threat to the livelihoods of many therapists who are registered with other associations such as the Natural Healer’s Association and so on. What is of serious concern is that to belong to either of the above mentioned associations/councils, it is necessary to complete one of their courses which are expensive in the extreme. Although this does not affect Dianne personally, she has become involved because therapists have asked for her advice.
The constitutional framework which governs labour regulation is to be found in sections 22 and 23 of the Bill of Rights, specifically section 22 which states: Every citizen has the right to choose their trade, occupation profession freely. The practice of a trade, occupation or profession may be regulated by law.
What has happened to many therapists who either qualified before the AHPCSA came into being or have qualified afterwards but not through one of the AHPCSA recognised schools, is that they are now falling short on the second part of Section 22, namely, “The practice … may be regulated by law”. Ngcobo J (as he then was) when commenting on the significance of this right stated: “What is at stake is more than one’s right to earn a living, important though that is. Freedom to choose a vocation is intrinsic to the nature of a society based on human dignity as contemplated by the Constitution. One’s work is part of one’s identity and is constitutive of one’s dignity.”
Lang recently contacted NEHAWU (Health falls within the scope of NEHAWU) with the idea of putting a bargaining council together for therapists, similar to the Bargaining Council for Hairdressing and Cosmetology. The Health sector is within the scope of NEHAWU and they are willing to help streamline the numerous disciplines into one cohesive group.
NEHAWU was founded on 27th and 28th June 1987 by workers from the Education, Health, Government and Social Welfare sectors. The Union is affiliated to COSATU – Congress of South African Trade Unions, which is the biggest federation in the country with over 1.9 million members.
NEHAWU is in COSATU for one strong workers’ voice, to unite with workers from other progressive sections of our South African society. NEHAWU is the biggest Public Sector Union and the biggest in the Public Service Coordinating Bargaining Council, a negotiations structure for public service employees in South Africa.
NEHAWU is based on the following core principles:
- Worker control of the union;
- Worker leadership;
- Democratic decision making through mandates and report backs;
- Worker solidarity: An injury to one is an injury to all!
- International Solidarity
Solly Legodi, the National Organiser of NEHAWU in Johannesburg, flew to Port Elizabeth for the day to discuss this problem. He and the Regional Secretary believe that NEHAWU should explore alternative health practitioner’s legal and constitutional right to earn a living without unreasonable government interference. As a Trade Union, they are decidedly in a better position, than we are individually to address these concerns. For more information on how a bargaining council works please see: www.hcsbc.co.za
Alternative Health Practitioners that are interested in being involved with the formation of a bargaining council similar to the that of the Bargaining Council for Hairdressing and Cosmetology, or who wish to be kept informed of progress, are requested to send email, contact details and location to dianne.lang1[at]googlemail.com who will keep you informed on all developments.