The Star Early Edition
Gauteng education staffers work in cramped offices
GAUTENG Department of Education employees have been working in dilapidated buildings and cramped offices for more than two months.
This follows a decision by the provincial education department and the Gauteng Department of Infrastructure Development to move the staffers to three new buildings in the Joburg CBD: 55 Fox Street and Talis Property Fund, also called the Hollard Building, at 17 Simmonds Street and 26 and 30 Loveday Street.
However, the workers were forced to vacate the 55 Fox Street building because of the poor working conditions.
While the building appears to have a beautiful exterior with glass walls inside, it has cracked ceilings and wiring is uncovered and exposed.
According to officials, water leakage affects their work on rainy days.
A disgruntled Gauteng Department of Education official, who requested to remain anonymous, told The Star that staff had been struggling to work at 55 Fox Street.
“In December 2016 some officials moved to the Hollard Building and around June 2017 approximately 750 staff moved to Fox.
“The head of department said they should use virtual offices even though there are no resources for such,” said the official.
“The chief engineers and other technical people were not involved in the process of securing buildings. Following the technical report by Gauteng Department of Education officials, which was ignored by management, the staff have been without offices for over two months,” said the official. “The 55 Fox Street concrete slab has serious cracks and uncovered wires.”
The official said that during a recent severe storm, the building in Fox Street leaked and a video recorded on the day showed staffers standing around helplessly.
“We had to evacuate our people because of the health and safety issues. It has been very dangerous for everyone,” he said.
In response to the complaints, the department’s spokesperson, Steve Mabona, said a decision was taken to vacate the workers due to restorative work at their old building.
“In the interim, Gauteng Department of Education officials have been deployed to various sites to continue with service delivery.
“It must be noted that the department is in constant liaison with the employees to update them with progress. We are working tirelessly to resolve this matter,” said Mabona.
Khume Ramulifho, DA Gauteng education shadow spokesperson, said he was “reliably informed” that for the past two months staff had not been reporting to work as they were moved from Fox Street.
“It is poor planning and project management. How do they move to such a building in the first instance?
“The MEC for infrastructure was bragging that all buildings are in good condition,” Ramulifho said.
“The DA will submit questions to establish why the department has subjected their employees to such a non-conducive working environment,” he said.
Staff have been without offices for two months