The Department of Social Development in Welkom shut down operations from the Lejweleputswa office on 24 February.
This unfortunate situation was created due to challenges and grievances voiced by the employees.
Every time they brought their grievances forward, employees felt they were met with complete and perpetual silence from management.
This is particularly regarding the unconducive working conditions they face daily.
Due to management’s delay in responding to and addressing the concerns, unions intervened and encouraged employees to stop working.
Some of the concerns raised include bathrooms that are out of order, dark offices without lighting, roof leaks, dilapidated and smelly carpets, unserviced fire extinguishers, a shortage of personnel, lack of office furniture, no tools, a lack of uniforms for security personnel and poor electrical wiring, which has already resulted in an office fire.
Members of the National Education Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) in the Department of Social Development, as well as the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) have embarked on a nationwide strike.
Minister Bathabile Dlamini and Sassa were meant to deliver answers to the Constitutional Court about who will take over the payment of social grants to 17 million South Africans from 1 April.
According to departmental spokesperson Lerato Kapa, the department is aware of the situation in the Welkom office and has acknowledged receipt of the complaints.
“However, on the issues relating to the condition of the offices, the landlord started with office renovations on Friday, 10 March.
“He will fix carpets, leaking roofs, broken windows and faulty electrical connections.
“These improvements will be finalised before the end of the month.
“Furthermore, in the meeting held between the head of department, executive managers and the striking Nehawu members on Monday, 13 March, an action list on all the workers’ demands was drawn up, along with time frames agreed to by all parties.”