NEHAWU will not allow its members and workers to work in unsafe buildings

The National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union [NEHAWU] wishes to inform the public that since the 15th August 2018 it had taken a decision not to allow its members to enter at the National Department of Health Offices because of serious health and safety issues, unfortunately after numerous complaints to management it fell on deaf ears.

On Wednesday, the 5th September 2018 at 18h56 in the evening the lawyers of the Minister of Health tried to ambush NEHAWU by serving papers on the union for an urgent application which was to be heard at 19h00 on the same evening at the Gauteng North High Court. The Minister was seeking to interdict our members by forcing them to return to work.

Despite the union having to scramble to respond, we managed to postpone the matter to be heard on the next day, Thursday 6th September 2018. As soon as we had enough time to put together a legal team to oppose the application, the Minister eventually withdrew the application late in the evening yesterday.

Since the fire and loss of life at the Bank of Lisbon building the national union has since taken a decision not to allow our members and workers to work in unsafe buildings. Early next week the national union will be filing an urgent application to declare that our members have no obligation to work in an unsafe buildings especially the Civitas building.

Currently, we are consulting our lawyers on a suitable legal recourse which might also include a possible lawsuit against the Gauteng Department of Human Settlement, the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional affairs and the Department of Health as far as the Bank of Lisbon building is concerned. The national union will also after consultation with its lawyers consider a lawsuit against the National Department of Health in relation to the Civitas Building in Pretoria.

What raises eye brows is the fact that the NOSA report states that carbon dioxide in the building is at 80% which is not safe for workers and clients visiting the building. Our members are extremely horrified at the lack of urgency by the Minister of Health and his Director General in attending to recommendations contained in the NOSA report, especially after the tragedies at Life-Esidimeni and the Bank of Lisbon building recently.

Our members will continue signing in the register in the morning and staying outside the building up until they are moved to another safe premises. Unfortunately, this will have serious implications to service delivery as all nine provinces are inter-linked with the work done from the Head Office of Health. The national union demands that the department takes serious the issues of health and safety of our members and workers in general.

A meeting will be scheduled with the Minister to demand answers for this lack of protection of our members and workers in their workplace

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: