EMPLOYEES from the eThekwini District office (Health) in Mayville abandoned their workstations on Wednesday and camped at the entrance of their office.

They demanded the health department to address their concerns around working under risky conditions.

Among the issues they raised is non-compliance with social distancing regulations, insufficient Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) as well management that doesn’t want to listen to their concerns.

They said they wanted the department to intervene because the provincial Head of Department (HOD), Dr Sandile Tshabalala signed and sent a circular where the department outlined how its district offices should apply social distancing but their management chose to turn a blind eye on it.

“We were all told to report back to work while the circular said only 30-50% employees are allowed to return to work.

As a result we fear that we’re going to contract the virus because we’re staffed in small communal offices,” said the employee.

Another employee said the masks they only received about a week ago, were not sufficient.

“We’re given one surgical mask every morning. One of the rules of wearing a surgical mask is that it should be changed every four hours, unfortunately that doesn’t apply to us,” said the employee.

Nehawu Durban Regional Secretary, Prince Mthalane said they were concerned about the level of arrogance they’ve seen within the facility.

“The issue of PPE within this facility has been a challenge since the beginning of the lockdown. Masks and sanitizers only arrived last week. Secondly, we wrote to the employer suggesting how the work could be carried out in a manner that will not put the lives of the employees at risk but that attempt went in vain,” said Mthalane.

KZN spokesman, Ntokozo Maphisa said the department is not aware of any shortage of PPE and has put in place a highly effective mechanism to monitor stock availability and ensure adequate replenishment thereof where necessary.

“If such a shortage exists, the staff is urged to immediately notify their immediate supervisors or managers. They can also inform the management at district or head office level,” said Maphisa.

He said the department can also confirm a temporary disruption to normal administrative operations at the eThekwini District earlier today, which was due to a grievance raised by staff.

However, the staff did return to their posts yesterday afternoon after the department explained to them that it had long started addressing the issues that they were raising.