Unions tell workers not to work in unsafe buildings

JOHANNESBURG - Several unions are uniting together against the government are calling on their members not to report for duty on Monday at eight unsafe buildings in the Johannesburg CBD. 

The unions include Denosa, Nehawu and Hospersa.

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The call comes after three firefighters died while putting out a blaze at the Bank of Lisbon building, which housed three Gauteng departments.

There has been mounting anger following reports that the building had not met with safety regulations. 

Unions are seeking legal advice. 

“We are actually clear in terms of our position. We have learnt from this incident, we can’t say workers must sit in those buildings that have been identified buildings,” said Gracia Rikhotso from Nehawu.

The unions want a clear plan from government on how it intends to address the problem.

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They are also demanding to be part of that plan and said that in the past workers were victimised and even suspended for raising concerns.

“The conditions of this building were discussed as far back as in 2012 last year we were under the impression that we had found each other because they had promised that they were going to move people so they knew the building was unsafe,” said Denosa’s Simphiwe Gada.

The unions are also accusing government of having wasted money in refurbishing another building where workers were meant to be relocated, something that never happened.

“When they told us that they were ready to relocate people, we asked them about the relocation company, that’s where things fell apart because they couldn’t appoint a relocation company even till today meaning that the money spent to refurbish that building was wasteful expenditure,” Gada said.

The provincial government intends meeting with staff of all the structures cited as unsafe to come up with plans to move them.

Officials said they can't force employees to work in hazardous buildings.