THE SA Municipal Workers Union (SAMWU) has undertaken to involve the Department of Labour and Employment inspectors on their oversight visits to municipalities following revelations that 63 municipal workers have died from the COVID-19 pandemic.
SAMWU expressed concern over the increase of cases within its membership, with the most cases registered in Western Cape (3103), Gauteng (557) and Eastern Cape (486).
The Eastern Cape Province has recorded the highest number of deaths (27), followed by Western Cape (15) and Gauteng (11).
These concerns follow an announcement by the Minister of Health Dr Zweli Mkhize of the latest COVID-19 infection statistics.
According to Mkhize, a further 192 people died from COVID-19 on Tuesday.
He said in the announcement that there were 15 from Limpopo, 22 from KwaZulu Natal, 36 from Eastern Cape, 44 from Western Cape and 75 from Gauteng.
According to SAMWU, employers, especially municipalities are not doing enough to protect employees, with some totally disregarding COVID-19 workplace health and safety guidelines.
SAMWU insists that the health and safety of workers remain the responsibility of employers, including municipalities.
Therefore, the union will continue to negotiate municipal workers’ health and safety.
Among those who have tested positive for COVD-19 are from Community Safety (Metro Police and Fire and Ambulances), community health workers and those in solid waste departments.
“We, therefore, call on greater focus these groups of workers as we believe there is not much being done to protect them,” the union’s General Secretary Koena Ramotlou said on Wednesday.
He said they are further concerned about the health and safety of municipal workers and demands greater compliance of COVID-19 regulations by all municipalities.
“The department should ensure that all municipal offices that do not comply with the regulations and the health and Safety Act are closed-down immediately,” Ramotlou said.
The National Department of Labour has provided guidelines for workplaces on addressing challenges brought about by COVID-19.
These include employers realigning their planning to address exposure risks, sources of exposure and the provision of adequate protective resources for employees.
South Africa has seen a sharp increase of COVID-19 cases with a total of 10 134 new cases recorded as at Tuesday, 07 July 2020.
With the death toll reaching 3502, SAMWU has called on all South Africans and municipal workers to adhere and comply with COVID-19 regulations.
“The country is heading towards a dark period which requires action from all (of) us. It is only through compliance we can all protect ourselves and our loved ones.”
According to the World Health Organisation, there are 11 500 302 cases globally and 535 759 deaths.
(Compiled by Inside Poitics staff)