28 April 2020
The Federation of Unions of South Africa (FEDUSA) has appealed to government, employers and labour formations to mark this year’s World Occupational Health and Safety Day by adopting stringent measures to prevent the spread of the highly contagious COVID-19 pandemic at each and every workplace as the country prepares to return to work after the lifting of Level 5 National Lockdown on Friday, May Day 2020 (Workers’ Day).
Central to such arrangement should be the physical repurposing and reorientation of work processes, workstations, and shared spaces inside the workplace in order to ensure adequate social distancing, the supply of protective personal equipment to all employees and regular fumigation. These measures will protect workers’ lives and ensure that the efforts and gains that have been made and achieved so far by South Africa in slowing down and suppressing the transmission of the virus is not reversed by reckless non-compliance.
Reckless non-compliance will force the government to return the country to a Level 5 Lockdown, a situation that will once again slow down and ravage the economy and is definitely not in the interest of the working class.
In its World OHS Day message for this year, the United Nations has declared that “as employers we are responsible for ensuring that the working environment is safe and healthy; as workers we are responsible to work safely and to protect ourselves and not to endanger others, to know our rights and to participate in the implementation of preventive measures”.
FEDUSA is also deeply concerned over the increasing number of COVID-19 infections in the country including those on essential services, in food retail shops that have continued operating during the lockdown, as this raises the important question of whether employers will be able to sustain the progress made so far in suppressing the transmission of the virus. According to the Department of Health, by Monday evening South Africa had 4 546 confirmed cases of COVID-19, 1 473 of those had recovered and 87 deaths.
FEDUSA will continue to demand action by our government to address the startling Occupation Safety and Health (OSH) violations and demand that PPE’s be made available by employers in the workplace. FEDUSA remains unconditionally committed to the struggle and fight for decent and safe work for all.
For interviews please contact:
Ms Riefdah Ajam
FEDUSA General Secretary
079 696 2625
FEDUSA Media and Research Officer
072 637 8096