The National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union [NEHAWU] welcomes the decision by the Department of Labour to condemn the Civitas building as of the 29th October 2018. The Civitas building houses the National Department of Health.
Our members were refusing to work in the Building as the employer could not produce an occupational health and safety compliance certificate, but rather elected to threaten members with implementation of no work no pay. The Department of Labour had advised the National Department of Health that the actions of organised labour to safeguard the health and safety of employees was in line with the Constitution of South Africa as well as the Occupational Health and Safety Act. NEHAWU then requested a meeting with the Director General of the National Department of Health on 29 October 2018 to discuss this intimidation of our members by the Department.
The Director General saw it fit to bring Senior and Junior Counsel as well as Attorneys to the meeting. It was clear in the meeting that there is a lack of commitment to resolve the issues. The only agreement that could be reached in the meeting was that there would be a meeting with the Inspector General from Department of Labour on that same day.
The outcome of the meeting with the Inspector General was that a prohibition notice was issued to the National Department of Health to close the Civitas Building until such time that the NDOH provides an update on the areas highlighted as risk areas.
NEHAWU applauds its members, who for the past three months refused to enter the offices despite various threats and intimidation by the employer who refused to acknowledge the health and safety risks for our members.
An inspector of the Department of Labour expressed an opinion that in terms of Section 30 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act [OHSA] the Civitas building is unsafe and should be vacated as soon as possible.
The report of the inspector directed that repairs must be undertaken first before workers can return to work. The report reveals that the sprinkler system does not work and that the building needs structural repairs relating to waterproofing.
NEHAWU has been on the forefront of highlighting the dire state of the building and the health risk it poses to our members, workers and clients who visits the building. We also handed over a memorandum of demands to the Minister on the 3rd October 2018 in support of our members complains about the unsafe and unhealthy state of the building. We are therefore elated that the building has been vacated as of today. Our members will not return to work until the prohibition by the Department of Labour has been revoked and the build is declared safe.
We note that the Department of Health will take over the maintenance of the building and we appeal to the department to move with speed in finalising the necessary repairs.
Issued by NEHAWU Secretariat
Zola Saphetha (General Secretary) at 082 558 5968;
December Mavuso (Deputy General Secretary) at 082 558 5969;
Khaya Xaba (NEHAWU Media Liaison Officer) at 082 455 2500
or email: email@example.com Visit NEHAWU website: www.nehawu.org.za