Employees protest over the delayed move from the unsafe Department of Health Civitas building. Picture: Goitsemang Tlhabye

Pretoria - Labour Unions representing workers "stuck" at the Department of Health's unsafe Civitas building have withdrawn from the task team meant to assist with the move from the hazardous building and back to protesting once again.

It's five months since employees at Civitas celebrated the announcement by Health Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi that they would finally be relocating from the building.

Employees under the leadership of the Public Servants Association (PSA) and the National Education Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu) once again brought their pleas for a safe working environment outside on to Thabo Sehume street in the CBD today.

Lusizo Ratya, the branch chairperson of Nehawu, said employees had once again taken the decision to picket outside the building, due to the "arrogant" behavior meted out to them by the Department of Health (DOH).

Ratya said since they had started raising concerns about the safety of workers last year due to non-operational fire-extinguishers, building defects, and security issues among other health concerns, they had literally gotten nowhere with stakeholders.

Employees protest over the delayed move from the unsafe Department of Health Civitas building. Video: Goitsemang Tlhabye

He said the DOH had made no effort to comply with a single instruction given to them by safety structures months ago.

This he said included for employees to be medically screened and for an Occupational Health and Safety Committee to be established.

“Nothing has changed. Places, where employees are not supposed to enter, are still being used and even offices that should have been cordoned off are still being occupied by workers to the detriment of their health.”

Peter Moloi, PSA Chairperson in the DOH, said they wanted to assist the department coming up with different options, yet they were not even making the slightest effort in trying to identify options on where to relocate workers.

Moloi said labour representatives were repeatedly frustrated by the task team they had been asked to part-take in and ultimately withdrawn by their national leadership from participating as the department was not willing to come to the table with solutions.

“That task team was supposed to deal with the issues raised by workers but in actual fact, it was reduced to nothing more than a toothless dog. 

"It's been two weeks since we pulled out and they have still not responded to our efforts to communicate.”

The task team was meant to Identify where the DOH would relocate to; develop a timetable for the relocation; identify and recommend a transitional mechanism; and resolve any other issues pertaining to the stand-off and the relocation.

In a statement, the PSA said it condemned the minister of health for failing to permanently relocate workers from the unsafe Civitas Building in Pretoria and was considering legal steps.

PSA General Manager, Ivan Fredericks added: “To date, the minister has failed to give effect to the relocation. The PSA subsequently on 17 April requested an urgent meeting with the minister within seven days to discuss the collapse of the task team that was appointed to oversee the relocation. 

The minister has blatantly ignored the union's requests by not even acknowledging receipt of the union’s letter.”

Ministerial spokesperson, Popo Maja, said he was not aware of any back-tracking on the move out of the building but said the decision between stakeholders was for any communication to be handled by the minister and national union leaders.

Pretoria News