Health Minister Zweli Mkhize has ordered the department urgently to find alternative office space for employees at its Civitas headquarters in Pretoria, where workers have for months refused to work because of “unsafe and unhealthy” conditions.
The Health Department, which claims that it is ready to roll out one of the most far-reaching and expensive health initiatives in the history of South Africa, appears unable to provide a “healthy” working environment for its own personnel, reports City Press.
Since September 2018, hundreds of employees at the department’s Civitas building in Pretoria have refused to enter it after it was declared unsafe and unhealthy. The report says every morning they arrive for work and gather in the lobby where they wait until 11am before leaving.
Zweli Mkhize, the minister of health, has now ordered the department to find an alternative office urgently, although it is unclear how long this will take.
Health workers’ union Nehawu confirmed that it had more than 600 members in the department. Khaya Xaba, a spokesperson for Nehawu, is quoted in the report as saying the department had committed to finding another office in August 2018, but had been dragging its feet since then.
The building accommodates about 1,400 workers, including the regulatory authority for healthcare products. Xaba said that, according to a circular from the director-general, no one was expected to be on the property after 11am. “Our members have been advised to report to the lobby until the employer has found another building.”Full City Press report
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