Nehawu goes to court for right to not work in dangerous buildings

The National Health Education and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu) has announced that it won’t allow its workers to work in unsafe buildings according to eNCA.

The union is planning to approach the courts for an order declaring that they have no obligation to work under such conditions.

This comes after the fire at the Lisbon building in Johannesburg’s CBD, which hosted the offices of Gauteng’s departments of health and human settlements.

The fire claimed the lives of three firefighters. EWN reports that Herman Mashaba has admitted that the fire department in Johannesburg is understaffed and under-equipped, meaning that they do not have the capacity to deal with fires in the city.

Following the fire, Premier David Makhura told eNCA that the provincial government was evacuating seven other buildings which were not up to code.

The Citizen reports that the Public Servants’ Association of SA (PSA) has been protesting about how their workers are risking their health working in the health department’s offices in Pretoria.

This building is also host to health minister Aaron Motsoaledi.

The Civitas building is in shocking condition, the airconditioning has died and burst pipes have meant that the ceilings are wrecked and the carpets are full of sewage.

The workers complain that working their is leaving them feeling dizzy and unproductive. The fire sprinklers aren’t working, the extinguishers haven’t been maintained – and the intercom system is broken so if there is a fire it may be an issue evacuating everybody.

My Take

This is part of what runs through my head whenever I hear somebody blaming the unions for the state of our country.

It isn’t the unions making the decision on who gets to play host to government departments, and it isn’t the unions deciding on giving tenders to their buddies for maintenance.

I still remember the reports about what happened to Pretoria’s City Hall under the ANC, the tender went to an idiot who concreted wooden floors and didn’t know to fix the roof before working on the walls. That was R90 million down the drain.

I suspect an investigation into these buildings will find similar shenanigans going on within our provincial and federal government.

Just a personal note here, but there is something I’ve noticed about these reports that just strikes me.

I realised a long time ago that working conditions are a major component to one’s quality of life. You probably spend something like eight hours a day, five days a week for most weeks of the year working.

Some work more, some work less and obviously you take some leave and sick leave, but this is roughly your life if you’re employed.

A huge chunk of your life is spent at your workplace. The quality of that place actually has more of an impact on your quality of life than your car does.

Would you want to work in a place that is poorly maintained because of how poorly managed it is? Would you want all of that time to be spent in a building with no aircon, broken ceilings, that smells of sewage and may actually constitute a death trap? Particularly if you had the power to change it?

The health department’s office in Pretoria played host to Aaron Motsoaledi, a very high ranking ANC and government official, and he was putting up with this?

The ruling party is run by a bunch of weirdos.

That said, the DA shouldn’t come out of this unscathed either. Herman Mashaba was elected mayor in August of 2016.

IOL was reporting on problems within the fire brigade in 2014. This was a known issue when Mashaba took office.

If this had been in 2017 I wouldn’t be as harsh about this, but the man’s had two years to sort this out.

You can only blame the legacy of the previous incumbents for so long. Hopefully this provides a wake-up call.

  • Picture courtesy of Nehawu via Facebook.
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