Hundreds of Limpopo govt staff on go-slow to return to work

Deep cleaning of classrooms at Bedfordview Primary School in Bedfordview, 26 May 2020 ahead of pupils returning to school after lockdown measures were introduced to help fight the Covid-19 pandemic. The red crosses on each desk is to stop anyone sitting too close to other pupils. Picture: Neil McCartney

National Education, Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu) said yesterday the decision was taken after management ‘bowed to pressure’ and sanitised offices.

More than 300 employees of the department of basic education in Limpopo, who went on a go-slow and did not report for work for days due to disagreements with management over Covid-19 related problems, will go back to work today.

The National Education, Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu) said yesterday the decision was taken after management bowed to pressure and sanitised offices.

The union was involved in a wrangle with management following allegations that only the office of the head of the department was sanitised after two officials tested positive for Covid-19.

The employees were allegedly told the department was facing serious financial constraints and could not afford to sanitise the entire building. In light of this, they embarked on a go-slow for the whole week.

“We decided to smoke a peace pipe with the management after they fumigated (sic) the offices.

“But we are still waiting for them to give us a certificate for the service rendered. We want to know which company was appointed, its track record and whether or not the company is legit.

“But, in the meantime, we advised employees to go back to work,” said Nehawu Limpopo provincial secretary Jacob Adams yesterday.

Departmental spokesperson Tidimalo Chuene said the employees who had been at work during lockdown Level 3 were directed to return on 6 July after the temporary closure.

“This is after the department of health was brought on board to guide (us) on measures to be taken.

“The advice received was that any area that has been closed off will be safe for habitation after seven days.

“One of the infected officials was last in the office on 15 June while the other was in the office on 23 June. As a further precaution, the offices of the concerned officials and other affected areas were disinfected,” said Chuene.

Chuene denied claims that only the office of the head of department was sanitised, adding: “What was witnessed was normal cleaning of the office using sanitiser.

“The department has Covid-19 funds set aside for instances where disinfection would be recommended.”

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