8 May 2020 by Liam Ngobeni
Pretoria – The Public Servants Association (PSA) has voiced its concern that government departments were not ready for staff to return to work.
The union, representing more than 240 000 public sector employees, also cited concerns regarding the flouting of Covid-19 regulations.
Acting PSA general manager Reuben Maleka said departments were not complying with safety regulations to combat the infection rate in terms of occupational health and safety measures in workplaces issued by the Department of Employment and Labour and Department of Public Service and Administration Circular 18 of 2020.
“In a seemingly blatant disregard or misconception by many government departments for the regulations issued by President Cyril Ramaphosa, there is a rush to reopen offices without ensuring compliance with level 4 requirements intended to reduce the risk of exposure to the virus.”
Maleka said they were flooded with reports from their members across the country that many departments were not compliant with the provisions of the amended regulations related to personal protective equipment and deep cleaning of offices, among other things, to protect employees and the public from exposure to Covid-19.ADVERTISING
“In various instances, inspectors from the Department of Employment and Labour had to be called to close non-compliant workplaces.”
He said they were concerned with the departme’s capacity to deal with a multitude of complaints.
According to Maleka, they had to intervene at the Department of Defence and Military Veterans on Tuesday when employees were instructed to report for duty when none of the safety regulations had been complied with.
“Some employers are arrogantly threatening employees should they fail to report for duty.
“We are concerned that the Department of Home Affairs has failed to screen employees and conduct deep cleaning.
“In some offices, the department recalled the full staff complement, despite regulations in this regard.”
Maleka said measures were apparently disregarded by the Department of Home Affairs in different districts countrywide.
“We are calling upon this department to withdraw the recall of employees to work and ensure compliance with safety regulations,” he said.
Failure to do so would reverse the gains of lockdown and could rapidly increase the number of infections in communities and workplaces.
“We cannot allow employees to return to workplaces that do not meet the requirements announced by various ministers to curb the spread of the virus.”
Maleka said they had warned employers against the premature recalling of employees without the necessary preparation and called upon ministers and MECs to lead by example by enforcing compliance with regulations by chief executives and directors-general.
Maleka said they were also urging the Auditor-General of South Africa to prepare a special programme on procurement of protective equipment and related items.
“It must also be ensured that there is no irregular conduct in this regard.
“Employees found wanting must be held accountable and dealt with decisively to deter others from engaging in similar practices,” said Maleka.
Source: IOL at https://www.iol.co.za/pretoria-news/government-departments-not-ready-to-receive-staff-psa-47712637