Nehawu to wage court battle over unsafe buildings

JOHANNESBURG - The stand-off between the National Health Education and Allied Workers Union and the health department continues as the union says it won't allow its members to work in unsafe buildings.

The union planning to approach the courts, to declare that members have no obligation to work in dangerous conditions.

Earlier this year, employees from the department staged a protest complaining about a dysfunctional air conditioning system.

This week alone there were two arson attempts on the building housing the Health Department in Pretoria.

READ: Joburg blaze: Building was a disaster waiting to happen, says Nehawu

Public Works Minister Thulas Nxesi said no stone should be left unturned in investigating arson at the national Health Department’s Civitas building in Pretoria.

“Are we witnessing new tactics in the fight back by state capture forces, which Minister [Pravin] Gordhan talks about? After all, part of state capture involved elements within the security apparatus,” said Nxesi.

Nxesi said they might be dealing with a concerted campaign of criminals.

“The most recent was yesterday (Thursday) afternoon with a fire on the 14th floor while there were people still in the building,” Nxesi said.

“Fortunately, the alarms went off and staff were able to extinguish the blaze.”

READ: Union fuming over government building blaze

Nxesi said they suspect a hidden hand at work.

“In the case of national health office of the department of health, Civitas building clearly there is a malicious attempt to exploit and exacerbate the legitimate grievances of employees,” he said.