As the investigation into the cause of the fire at Parliament continues, National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) Secretary in Parliament Temba Gubula says many of their members have been traumatised.
Parliament employs an army of workers who provide different services. Many of them spend even more time here than Members of Parliament. Their job is to ensure that the members are able to perform their duties.
It is to be expected that this will be a difficult time for them. Gubula says they have been receiving calls from distressed members.
“Most of us spend a lot of time here, many late nights, Nkandla report and many other debates that kept us late up here. It’s really for our members, quite sad and unfortunate what happened here. There are things of sentimental value, there are things that are invaluable that our members lost here. Offices people put family portraits, they put lucky charm blankets. And relationships were formed here. Friendships were formed in that National Assembly. “
Gubula says they are in communication with the Parliament Wellness Unit to organise counselling for employees:
Parliament spokesperson Moloto Mothapo has also spent many years working at the Parliament in various roles. His office is one of those that were gutted.
“It’s quite distressing, it’s very sad, a very emotional time to actually witness with your own eyes. The office that you have spent about five years working in, five years of the 15/16 years that I have been here. It’s not easy to see an institution of this nature going down like this. “
With the advent of the coronavirus pandemic, many of parliament’s services have been scaled down. But there was always an understanding that as soon as the pandemic is under control, the sittings of the house will return to normal with many of the services returning to normal.
The outbreak of the fire means that this will not happen for a number of years. Gubula says, however, they will make sure that none of their members lose their jobs as a result of the fire.
“We had the chamber support staff and service officers. We had catering staff in those restaurants, procedural officers, and many staff members that work in that building worried about what is going to happen to their jobs and we want to say nothing is going to happen to their jobs. Their work will continue. They will not lose their jobs. There’s no reason for them to lose their jobs. So, we’ve assured them and I’m sure management will also assure them equally.”