The three big labour organisations in South Africa have cautioned employers against acting in this manner with employees who refuse to take the Covid-19 jab.
This warning comes after an employee at Goldrush Group who was fired after she failed to comply with the company's mandatory vaccination policy lost her bid to have the decision overturned by the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA).
Cosatu, Fedusa and Nactu suggest that this approach on vaccination will worsen already high unemployment in the country.
They instead suggested that, employers should rather educate and persuade workers who are reluctant to vaccinate.
In their statement, they said “Organised labour believes that dismissal of any worker must be avoided at all costs. Workers have families that they are responsible for. We have an unemployment rate of 46% that is rising daily. Sending any worker into the unemployment queue is to condemn their families to poverty,” the statement read.
In addition to that, the statement said, workers should not be easy targets for mandatory vaccination. This is because workers constitute only about a quarter of the population.
They said “If we are to achieve the required 70% vaccination levels, then this must be a society-wide approach of vaccination. Not one that is simply dumped upon workers.
“This has the unnecessary effect of raising workplace tensions and thus undermining labour market stability.”
The unions urged employers to instead follow the ministerial directive on workplace vaccinations which, among other things, “requires employers to undertake a needs-based assessment of their workplaces and to engage with workers and unions on their vaccination policies”.
The unions also said they defend employees who are threatened with disciplinary action or are fired for refusing to vaccinate.
“SA is a constitutional democracy. This requires dialogue to resolve complex and sensitive matters. Dismissing workers who have fears will only serve to polarise a very toxic debate and, in fact, feed into the hands of the anti-vaxxers.”
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