Cosatu against mandatory vaccination at work places

Plan by some employers slammed

Discovery Group on Thursday became the latest employer to announce plans to make vaccination compulsory for workers.
Discovery Group on Thursday became the latest employer to announce plans to make vaccination compulsory for workers.
Image: 123RF/milkos

The plan by some employers to make Covid-19 vaccination at work mandatory is pitting business against labour movements.

Financial services firm Discovery Group on Thursday became the latest employer to announce plans to make vaccination compulsory for workers.

The company's comments come after Business Leadership SA (BLSA) chief executive Busi Mavuso said in her letter this week that she in the near future expected "to see businesses becoming more strident in requiring  vaccination both from their customers and employees".

BLSA represents some of the country's biggest businesses.

Discovery Group chief Adrian Gore said: “Discovery intends to implement a mandatory vaccination policy effective 1 January 2022, given the clear moral and social obligation as informed by our core purpose to make people healthier and to enhance and protect all employees’ lives; and by our values, particularly, acting as a force for social good; and supported by a legal obligation to protect and safeguard our people from all potential risks.”

He was earlier this week elected as the deputy president of Business Unity SA (Busa), an organisation which represents established business.

Gore, who revealed the plan while delivering the company's annual results, said the mandatory vaccination policy recognises employees’ right to object to the vaccination and has built in a process to manage this including, where necessary and possible, exemptions and reasonable accommodation of employees taking into account the operational and business requirements of Discovery.

"This process will consider the employee’s health, religious and other legal rights and seek to balance these with the rights of all employees across the group," he said. “We will do our very best to accommodate each employee as we recognise that each case is different.

"We will not follow a blanket approach but will instead use a fair and equitable process that balances the employees’ rights, the safety of our workplaces and operational requirements,” said Gore.

The country's biggest trade union federation, Cosatu, said it opposed mandatory vaccination by employers. 

"We reject the idea because it is a weapon that will be used to discriminate against those who hold different beliefs from mainstream. We prefer that dialogue is used and not coercion to convince workers and South Africans to vaccinate," said Cosatu spokesperson Sizwe Pamla.

Pamla added that Cosatu intended discussing the matter with company bosses. 

"We plan to engage them and hopefully it will not result in any head-on confrontation. But all options are on the table if dialogue doesn’t work," he said.

Busa president Bonang Mohale had not responded by the time of publication.

Black Business Council chief executive Kganki Matabane said the organisation supported compulsory vaccination.

"The BBC will support any move that will speed up the process of reopening the economy and creating the much needed jobs to deal decisively with unemployment, inequality and poverty.

"Vaccination is the only medically proven solution so far as evidenced by full stadiums in England, Europe and the USA due to those countries having vaccinated more than 70% of their population," Kganki Matabane

"As such we will not oppse such a move," he said.

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