Dept of Rural Development staff on strike as building a ‘disaster’

2018-03-07 06:00
PHOTO: SUPPLIEDDepartment of Rural Development employees outside the building on Monday.

PHOTO: SUPPLIEDDepartment of Rural Development employees outside the building on Monday.

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“IT is a disaster waiting to happen.”

This is how Department of Rural Development employees have described the condition of the building they are working in.

The employees under the National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) and the Pan Africanist Congress of Azania (PAC) downed tools on February 16 demanding that the building be inspected before they go back inside and start working again.

They have not returned to work since.

The employees said they fear for their lives as the building is cracking and leaking, and some of the offices have slippery floors. They said that on some of the building levels, the ceiling boards have fallen down. In the cleaners’ room, the window fell on an employee in 2015 and to date this has not been fixed.

When Echo visited the building on Monday, employees were sitting outside the building.

They said they do not have a problem with resuming duty but they have issues with the condition of the building that they are forced to work in. One employee, who requested anonymity in fear of victimisation, said they have tried numerous times to report the problem to management but have failed.

“We cannot work in this building anymore. We are scared that it will crumble. They [management] must fix it or they must get us another building to work in. Everything is a mess in this building because even the air conditioners stopped working years ago.

“The fire extinguishers expired in 2014 and they have not been replaced. If a fire breaks out while we are still inside, what is going to happen to us? Our lives matters; they must know that,” she said.

Another employee said she once reported to management that her office leaks when it rained and she was given a bucket.

“I work with a bucket on my desk when it is raining and it is getting worse. This building should have been maintained from the start. It is too late now. We do not want action plans now, we want action.

“We sat in a lot of meetings discussing this problem but we never got answers. Last week Tuesday, we submitted a petition but still no one responded to us,” she said.

Nehawu regional secretary Zamisile Giyama said that the issue of the collapsing building was first raised in 2013. “This building started to have problems 12 years ago and nothing has been done. We can’t have our members working in these condition. They are not going to work until this matter has been resolved.

“Some of them are even sick now because the building has dampness.

“It is about time that the management takes responsibility and does something about this,” he said.

The department was asked to comment but failed to respond by the time of going to press.

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