City of Cape Town staff at the new offices in Bellville have launched a grievance procedure against their employer following the contamination of drinking water.
The city had been alerted to the issue by staff members after they complained of a “strong diesel smell” from the water taps at the new Water and Sanitation head office building last month.
In a grievance letter supported by a petition, the staff demanded accessible drinking water and health screening tests be done.
The staff also accused management of an “uncaring backhanded” attitude as they claimed that the water was supposed to have been tested before they took occupation of the new building in May.
“We were informed on June 22 that the water was unsafe to drink. Since May 1 the staff have been drinking the water which we have now learnt, almost two months later, is undrinkable,” staff said.
Although the city said it was providing bottled water for consumption, staff claimed they had arrived at work on June 25 to find that there was no accessible drinking water.
According to some employees, a few colleagues had reported in sick due to the contamination.
A report prepared after an analysis of sampled water concluded that the drinking water at the building was “aesthetically” unacceptable and might also pose chronic health risks.
However, the city’s director for water and sanitation, Peter Flower, was adamant that there was no acute health risk associated with the taste and odour of the water, even though it did not meet the aesthetic quality standards.
He said that the exact cause of the contamination was still being investigated and that staff would be kept abreast as the process unfolded.