Trade union Solidarity says it has granted the Department of Water and Sanitation's (DWS's) request to extend the deadline for an alternative proposal to making use of the services of 24 Cuban engineers.
The new date for the department to present its proposal to Solidarity is May 17.
“In consultation with our legal team, we decided that it would be fair to give them an extension of the deadline, even though they missed the initial deadline.
"For us the primary focus remains the best interests of local employees and especially our excellent South African engineers. We remain focussed on promoting the interests of South African workers, either through a substantive, formalised agreement, or through legal action, if necessary,” says Solidarity CE Dr Dirk Hermann.
Solidarity met with Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation Minister Lindiwe Sisulu earlier this week to discuss the decision to make use of Cuban engineers to assist the DWS.
The department had been asked to respond with an alternative by May 13, but missed that deadline.
The union previously stated that there were local skills that could be drawn on rather than relying on foreign skills.
“There is no justification for importing Cubans and from a country with a deficient water infrastructure, while South African skills are available. The crux of the problem is a total disrespect for skills and the private sector in South Africa,” Hermann said previously.
The union had also, in April, asked the government to confirm whether all legal requirements were in place for the engineers to work in South Africa and whether the Cuban engineers were registered and licensed in terms of the Engineering Profession Act.
If the engineers do not meet the registration requirements of the Engineering Council of South Africa, they will be limited in the work they may do and, in certain cases, they will only be permitted to work under supervision.