Department of health vows never to return to Citivitas building

Department of Health workers can be seen protesting outside the Civitas building, 22 January 2019, Pretoria. Picture: Jacques Nelles

Department of Health workers can be seen protesting outside the Civitas building, 22 January 2019, Pretoria. Picture: Jacques Nelles

Staff working in the building have been complaining about lack of safety and health concerns, despite the building being cleared by government.

Following months of a stand-off between the department of health and its employees over the status of the Civitas headquarters building in Pretoria, government has finally decided to permanently ditch the offices, reports Pretoria East Rekord.

Department spokesperson Popo Maja said: “The intention is not to come back. It all depends on the public works department to find us accommodation.”

Staff working in the building have been complaining about lack of safety and concerns for the health of the employees, while the government previously declared the building safe for use.

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An agreement has now been reached between the health ministry and its employees to desert the building in the Pretoria CBD.

Civitas has been described as “a very high-tech building”, which has been at the centre of a continuous stand-off between labour unions, the departments of labour, health and of public works.

Maja said this week: “It would be in the interest of everybody for the department of health to relocate elsewhere and leave the Civitas building.”

Maja said although the department tried to prove that the building was still safe to work in by bringing engineers and other technical experts from various institutions to inspect it, the feud continued between employees and employers.

“Numerous meetings have taken place between organised employees, department of labour, health and public works,” Maja said.

He said the decision to ditch the building was reached after a meeting held last week Wednesday in Cape Town.

“It was agreed that all the parties will abandon all the technical or legal arguments they may be having against each other pertaining to the building and concentrate on the common goal for all, to relocate from the building and bring an end to the stand-off, mistrust, suspicions and a psychologically poisoned working environment, whereby working relationships are highly strained,” Maja said.

“This stand-off is in no one’s interest. Actually, it is working against the interest of the people of South Africa. Neither the labour unions nor the government departments have anything to gain from this continued state of affairs.”

Maja said a task team has been formed to complete the following tasks:

– Identify where the department of health will 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.

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