National

Employees may not work in 'uninhabitable' offices, says court

Sapa

The Labour Court in Johannesburg has ruled that labour department employees do not have to work at their uninhabitable inner city offices.

The department's workers were threatened with disciplinary action for not reporting for duty at 135 Commissioner Street, in the Johannesburg CBD. (Madelene Cronje)

The Labour Court in Johannesburg has ruled that labour department employees do not have to work at their uninhabitable inner city offices, the Star reported on Friday.

The department's workers went to court after they were threatened with disciplinary action for not reporting for duty at 135 Commissioner Street, in the Johannesburg CBD.

Health inspectors from the labour department issued a notice stating that the employer could not occupy it or allow employees to work there. The building was subsequently shut down, after a prohibition notice was issued, on October 31. Eighteen days later this notice was replaced with an improvement notice. The condition of the building was however not improved in any way.

"The air conditioner is not working, there is no proper airflow, humidity is extremely high, there is mould on the walls and there is a sewer leakage as well," an employee was quoted as saying.

Final ultimatum
The department instructed workers to get back into the building. On December 14 they received a final ultimatum to go back to work in the building, or it would be assumed they were on an unprotected strike.

On Tuesday, Judge DH Gush ruled that the employees did not have to report for duty at the building until the matter of the prohibition and improvement notices had been heard.

The National Education, Health and Allied Workers' Union's Gracia Rhikhotso and the Public Servants' Association's Henry Holl told the Star that employees started experiencing health problems including headaches, shortness of breath, diarrhoea and bronchitis, while absenteeism went up and medical aids were exhausted.  – Sapa

Topics In This Section

Comments

blog comments powered by Disqus