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Cleaning concern after union official tests positive

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THE NATIONAL Education, Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu) is aggrieved that the offices of the Northern Cape Department of Sport, Arts and Culture were apparently disinfected by employees and not by a service provider accredited to decontaminate Covid-19 workstations.

A letter of grievance was addressed to the HOD and the MEC of the department on Tuesday after a Nehawu shop steward tested positive for Covid-19.

The Nehawu branch chairperson at the provincial Department of Sport, Arts and Culture, Victor Modise, indicated that the employer was informed of his test results on August 13.

“All areas that were frequented by the affected official in the building should have been closed for decontamination, including his office, the chain management section, sports and recreation and the Frances Baard district offices,” Modise said on Wednesday.

“There are a total of three reported positive cases. While all protocols were followed in the two previous cases, the latest case has been treated very lightly. The areas were disinfected by officials of the department. We are not certain what chemicals were used to deep-clean.”

Modise confirmed that the latest person to test positive for Covid-19 is a Nehawu shop steward.

“He came into contact with cleaners during a meeting regarding non-payment, where one cleaner has since been sent into self-isolation after complaining of symptoms. The cleaners were sent home for half a day on Monday but had to report back to duty on Tuesday this week.”

Modise indicated that he had gone into self-isolation as he had been in contact with the shop steward.

Northern Cape department of Sport, Arts and Culture spokesperson Conrad Fortune stated that all protocols were adhered to whenever an official tested positive for Covid-19.

“The areas where the official was have been sanitised by the occupational health and safety unit of the department,” Fortune said.

He explained that the cleaners were appointed by a private contractor.

“They met with the shop steward outside the premises of the department. They were placed in isolation by the owner of the cleaning company.”

Fortune added that all areas where the official was present inside the building were cordoned off as per Covid-19 the regulations after receipt of the positive test results.

“No officials entered that part of the building. The fact that the members of the union are indicating otherwise, is devoid of the truth. The department is aware of the dangers that the virus can pose for both officials and the general public who visit our premises. We acted immediately to ensure that measures were put in place in order to avoid the spread of the virus. The health and safety of everyone is a priority to us and we are committed to fighting the spread of the virus together with society.”

Fortune said officials were permitted to work flexi hours to avoid large gatherings and to ensure social distancing at the office.