WATCH: Newcastle youth and child care workers protest for higher salaries

Protesters outside Newcastle Secure Care Centre are demanding higher salaries.

SUNSET VIEW – Youth and child care workers are currently protesting outside the Newcastle Secure Centre.

The protesters are demanding higher salary brackets, claiming their current income was nowhere near enough to compensate for their working conditions.

“We work with children who are awaiting trial for cases such as murder and rape. We go to these youngsters with no form of protection and we feel that we need to be compensated for it,” said one protester.

Allegedly, a child care worker was assaulted in 2015.

“This shows how dangerous our employment is. We can’t even take a stick with us for in case of emergencies, as this is seen as child abuse.”

The protesters are on a level four income, yet demand the Department of Social Development updates the salaries to a level seven bracket.

While the increase will not secure their safety, they feel it will bring about financial security for their families if something were to happen to them during work.

Allegedly, the Newcastle Youth and Child Care Facility has closed its doors due to the strike, and the children in its care have been sent home.

“The strike will continue until further notice. While we are not getting paid during the strike, we are fighting for our rights and it is already affecting service delivery,” the protester said.

It could not be confirmed if the Youth and Child Care Facility had indeed sent all its youth home, bringing work to a virtual standstill, but an unofficial source from within the facility claimed only one child was still being homed.

“The others were sent home by buses,” he said.

Department of Social Development spokesperson for KwaZulu-Natal, Ncumisa Ndelu denied the Newcastle Youth and Child Care Facility were sending children home.

“Children in these facilities are taken to court. It is possible people might have mistaken that these children were being sent home, when they were actually taken to court.”

Currently, it isn’t clear when the strike will come to an end.

“The strikes are an issue in the province at the moment, but the department is addressing the matter,” she concluded.

Quinton Boucher

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