COSATU in Mpumalanga warns employers against mistreating unvaccinated COVID-19 workers

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Labour Federation, COSATU, in Mpumalanga has warned employers to refrain from mistreating workers who are not vaccinated against COVID-19.

COSATU’s Provincial Secretary Thabo Mokoena says employees should not be dismissed on the basis that they are not vaccinated.

Mokoena was speaking on the sidelines of COSATU’s provincial congress in Ermelo.

“Vaccination should not be used as a condition of employment. It should not be an employment contract because it has never been an employment contract. Workers must be encouraged to vaccinate. We believe that vaccination has got a very significant impact in mitigating and reducing the impact of the spread of the virus. We cannot, therefore, say we do not want people to vaccinate. But we also don’t agree with employers who will use vaccination to victimise workers.”

This comes after the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation & Arbitration (CCMA) dismissed an application of an employee of the Gold Rush Group after she was fired for opting not to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

Discussion on vaccination rights:

CCMA dismisses application of an employee fired for opting to not get vaccinated 

The CCMA ruled that Theresa Mulderij’s dismissal was fair as she did not comply with regulations of the company’s mandatory vaccination policy.

The company said it dismissed the employee on grounds that she did not create a safe working environment for her colleagues.

Cosatu blames government

Cosatu has accused government of failing to ensure that clear legislation is enacted with regards to COVID-19 mandatory vaccination.

General-Secretary Bheki Ntshalintshali says government is to blame for the situation that some workers are finding themselves in.

“It’s a failure of the state to really put into being legislature about this. We were hoping that some rulings at the CCMA and the Labour Court would not use this as a precedent in these particular matters. There is going to be a lot of loopholes and medical opinions by different people in society. Because even if you are vaccinated, you can carry the disease and infect other people,” says Ntshalintshali.

Mixed views on mandatory vaccinations 

Various discussions have been held around the issue of mandatory vaccinations in South Africa.

In November 2021, President Cyril Ramaphosa proposed mandatory vaccination for certain locations and activities.

Welcoming the proposal, Business 4 South Africa (B4SA) has since said the country cannot afford another hard lockdown.

B4SA Chairperson, Martin Kingston has urged government to move fast to restrict access to certain areas for people who are not vaccinated.