South Africa 7.9.2018 06:05 am

PSA heading to court over ‘death trap’ Civitas building

A maintenance worker is seen near what is known as the

A maintenance worker is seen near what is known as the "chillers" which are used to cool down and circulate fresh air inside the National Department of Health building, unfortunately the machines are not operating correctly and have not been maintained, in the Pretoria CBD where employees have been protesting for months for the lack of maintenance and care in the building, 6 September 2018, Pretoria. Picture: Jacques Nelles

The Health department admitted during discussions with the association that the building, housing its headquarters, is unsafe and uninhabitable.

The Public Servants Association of SA (PSA) will head to the Labour Court next week in an attempt to close down the Civitas building in the Pretoria city centre, which it describes as a death trap and a disaster waiting to happen, like the deadly fire at the health department’s building in Johannesburg this week.

PSA assistant manager Reuben Maleka yesterday said the union felt vindicated after Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi withdrew an urgent application in the High Court in Pretoria against the striking workers.

The minister sought an interdict to stop striking workers from engaging in criminal activities, disrupting activities at the Civitas building and intimidating, harassing, victimising, assaulting or threatening nonstriking employees of the health department.

The application was withdrawn yesterday afternoon and the department tendered to pay the wasted costs after the PSA and the National Education Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu) gave undertakings to discourage their members from engaging in unlawful activities.

The department accused striking employees who are objecting to unsafe working conditions at the building of damage, interrupting meetings, disrupting operations and engaging in acts of violence and intimidation against employees not taking part in the illegal strike.

The PSA said it disassociated itself from and did not condone unlawful conduct, including threats, violence or intimidation, and would advise its members to desist from such conduct, but made it clear that it did not concede to any of the department’s allegations against them.

Nehawu said none of the alleged acts of misconduct occurred with the authority or connivance of the union and it positively discouraged acts of its members that constituted offences, or which disrupted the activities of employees who were still rendering service at the department.

Maleka said he was surprised that the department came to court, despite admitting during discussions that the building was uninhabitable and unsafe because there was no ventilation or windows that could be opened.

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