The Chris Hani region of the South African Municipal Workers’ Union (SAMWU) in Eastern Cape Province has learnt with great shock the negligence and failure by the Chris Hani District Municipality in Queenstown to comply with the covid19 regulations of level 4.
This comes after two employees from the same department tested positive within a space of two weeks. It is to be noted that after the first case at the municipality, employer promised to fumigate the building, but with the second confirmed case, we are skeptical to believe that indeed the thorough fumigation was done.
We have also noted with great concern that at Chris Hani District Municipality has been preoccupied with filling vacant positions instead of pulling all their energies towards guaranteeing the health and safety of workers in line with the Department of Employment and Labour read with the Occupational Health and Act.
As a trade union, we always openly welcome decisions by municipalities to fill vacancies, which are by the way at an alarmingly high rate. We are however concerned this time around that instead of ensuring that the workplace is safe for workers, the Chris Hani District Municipality is now working on bringing more workers to the workplace.
This is move is not in the interest of workers or the community which they are supposed to be serving as Queenstown is the hot spot in this province. It clearly shows that municipal management does not care about the lives of the prospective employees who are to be interviewed, including the lives, health and safety of workers and their families.
Since the municipality has failed to prepare the workplace for level 4, there is no logical explanation as to why the municipality should along with the county move to level 3. We therefore demand that the District Municipality be placed on a higher level, preferably level 5, until such a time that the health and safety of workers and residents can be guaranteed.
We further, call on the provincial government to intervene in the municipality in the interest of public health. The provincial department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs should also assist the municipality in readying the workplace for workers to return to a safe and secure environment including developing a workplace risk analysis as required by the regulations.
We further demand that the municipality cease plans of filling vacancies until such a time that there is a risk analysis in place and that the health and safety of workers can be guaranteed. The rush to fill these vacancies when it is not safe to do so leads one to conclude that there is something that management seeks to hide or that political debt needs to be paid through these vacancies as is always the case in our municipalities.
We are not in a position to negotiate the health and safety of municipal workers, including prospective employees. We, therefore, in the interest of the health and safety of municipal workers and that of their families urge municipal workers to refuse to work if there is no adequate PPE provided to them.
We lastly wish all workers and South Africans who have contracted this virus a speedy recovery and wish them the strength to beat this virus.
Issued by SAMWU Chris Hani Region
Asamkele Chris Ntaka
071 366 3644