The National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union [NEHAWU] in the Northern Cape condemns both the Northern Cape Department of Public Works and the Department of Labour for housing our members and workers in an unsafe building and failing to find a suitable one that is compliant with Occupational Health and Safety [OHS] standards.
The Department of Labour has been removed from the New Lisbon building which they used to occupy after both departments forgot to renegotiate a new term for the lease. The owner of the building went ahead and leased the building to new tenants leaving our members and workers with no place to work. Workers have now been forced to work at the lobby of the De Aar town hall. There is no security in place at the hall and workers are placed next to public toilets which presents a health hazard.
Work equipment and confidential information that must be kept safe have been left unattended and can easily be removed/stolen by anyone. In our view this has a direct impact on service delivery due to the carelessness of both departments.
What is more shocking is that the department of labour is the one that is entrusted with ensuring that there is compliance OHS standards yet they subject our members to deplorable working conditions. Moreover, we have written to the department about all these issues but still no one from the provincial office has cared to explain to workers what is going on and how long will it take before this crises is resolved and those responsible disciplined.
The lack of proper and safe working space for workers ultimately disadvantages clients who rely on the Department of Labour for services. The working class and the poor need the services from the department hence it has to remain open at all times and our people must not be subjected to hazardous elements when they go to seek for help.
The trade union has held 3 meetings with the department of labour provincial management. On the first 2 meetings members were threatened with disciplinary action and forced to go back to work in an unsafe building.
Currently, workers are forced to go work in Kimberly which 300 km away from De-Aar. No consideration is being given to the fact that these workers have families. In the last meeting the Provincial management decided to walk out of the meeting claiming that their time was being wasted, as if it is workers who are at fault.
We have written to the Director General demanding that an investigation be carried out to determine who is responsible for this mess, yet the department has now served our members with letters threatening them with disciplinary hearings.
NEHAWU will consider everything possible at its disposal for an urgent intervention including bringing this matter to the attention of the alliance components in the Province about the horrible working conditions. This will include how this crisis impacts service delivery to the working class and the poor who must benefit. In the meantime, we will not allow our members to work in unsafe buildings.
Issued by NEHAWU Northern Cape Provincial Secretariat