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Mandatory Vaccines Spell Nightmare for Labour Industry

Nov 30, 2021

By Naadiya Adams

Mandatory Covid-19 vaccination requirements may soon become a reality for South Africans in the workplace and public spaces.

President Cyril Ramaphosa announced on Sunday that a task team has been set up by government to consider whether to make vaccines mandatory for specific locations and activities.

At least three universities have already indicated that it will be mandatory for students to be vaccinated to attend classes or stay in residences.

The big question is how does it affect employers and employees in the workplace.

In an interview with Radio Islam, labour consultant Tony Healy says that as far back as June, traces of mandatory policies being implemented had already begun to show,

“The point of departure {from vaccines being voluntary} is a government directive dated the 11th June, which for the first time confirmed that in some circumstances employers can make Covid-19 vaccinations compulsory in their workplace but there are certain important considerations.”

Healy says the considerations will be different in each case but fundamentally it will come down to the personal rights of an individual versus the public health of the entire organization which will be the deciding factor in making a vaccine mandatory.

“Even a cashier in a supermarket, it’s a multi-touch environment, they touching goods, they touching credit cards, they touching bags, they touching money, they touching surfaces so a multi-touch environment is a good example of where an employer could make vaccination compulsory,” explained Healy.

Healy says there are currently at least 15 cases around the country where employees have been dismissed for refusing to take the vaccine, all of which have been “red lined” by the CCMA to be dealt with by senior commissioners in Johannesburg.

According to Healy these labour cases will only increase as more and more workplaces impose the mandate to be vaccinated on their employees – a decision not taken lightly by labour unions.

While Cosatu says they have now “evolved” their stance on vaccinations for Covid-19, and is throwing their support behind the jab, unions in the public sector are fighting obligatory jabs in workplaces and public areas.

The Public Servants Association (PSA), the Southern African Policing Union (Sapu) and the Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (Popcru) have all confirmed that they would pit against mandatory vaccinations. The Democratic Nursing Organisation of South Africa (Denosa) is still on the fence.

Meanwhile, the latest Covid-19 statistics saw an increase of 4373 new cases representing a 10.2% positivity rate.



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