While COVID-19 vaccines are not yet mandatory in South Africa, some employers have started firing or retrenching unvaccinated employees, writes MedicalBrief.
Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) director Cameron Morajane has confirmed that so far, it had received 10 referrals, which have been “redlined”.
Sunday Independent reports that last month, the Labour Department ruled that companies making COVID-19 vaccinations mandatory for staff would have to compensate their workers should they suffer side effects, illness or death from the jab. And President Cyril Ramaphosa had said the vaccines are not mandatory.
But individual companies and establishments are formulating their own policies,
In September, Discovery, one of SA’s largest medical aid scheme administrators, said it would make COVID-19 vaccinations mandatory for all employees from 1 January
2022, to ensure staff safety. Last month mining service partner Fraser Alexander also announced a mandatory vaccination policy from 1 January, as did the University of Cape Town, which declared various restrictions for unvaccinated students who might also not be allowed back on campus from January 2022.
Then PSG chief executive Piet Mouton called for the imposition of mandatory vaccinations and in an open letter to the public, said people choosing not to be vaccinated should be denied entry to restaurants, public parks, shopping centres, airports, business and educational institutions.
However, human rights activist and lawyer Schalk van der Merwe insists that employees who reject forced vaccination from their employers are enforcing their rights and are protected by the Labour Relations Act and the Constitution. He advises employees to not accept bullying, threats, bribes, coercion, disciplinary action or suspension for exercising their human rights against forced vaccination.
Van der Merwe said that workers should respond with: “I am exercising my non-derogable right in terms of Chapter 2 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, Act 108 of 1996, as amended. I choose not to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. Furthermore, I exercise my rights as an employee and remind you of Section 192 (2) of the Labour Relations Act, Act 66 of 1995, as Amended, read with Schedule 8 of the Act. If I am dismissed unfairly, I will refer the case to the CCMA, Bargaining Council if applicable, or the Labour Court.”
He said he had already received more than 5,000 complaints of human rights infringements against employers forcing their staff to vaccinate, reports Sunday Independent.
Socio-therapist Raynauld Russon claimed that vaccines were still on trial, and accused the government of “pushing experimental vaccines in violation of the Nuremberg Code of 1947 guidelines.”
Cosatu spokesperson Sizwe Pamla said that some of its members had been told to vaccinate or face dismissal. Cosatu supported the need for everyone to vaccinate, he said, but the union could not support the dismissal of workers.
Young Nurses Indaba Trade Union general secretary Lerato Mthunzi also said they had received complaints from members who had been intimidated, victimised and forced to vaccinate.
National Education Health and Allied Workers Union (Nehawu) spokesperson Lwazi Nkolozi said even though the union had called on the government to produce vaccines and speedily roll out the vaccination programme, it did not support forced vaccination at the expense of workers’ constitutional rights.
National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) spokesperson Phakamile Hlubi-Majola said the union encouraged vaccination, and they had not received complaints.
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