16 September 2021
The Federation of Unions of South Africa (FEDUSA) has urged its affiliates’ members and all workers to get vaccinated against COVID19. This is the only effective way to put the economy back onto a stable trajectory and create the base for job creation. It will put an end to the current open and shut mode forced by the mutations of the virus. The instability has taken a severe toll on jobs and the mental health of workers.
However, FEDUSA remains opposed to any victimisation of workers who may refuse to be vaccinated against COVID-19 on religious, medical or constitutional grounds. This follows disturbing reports that a growing number of employers are adopting mandatory vaccination policies and threatened to dismiss workers who refuse to take the vaccine.
FEDUSA remains guided by the updated occupational health and safety directive that was gazetted by the Department of Employment and Labour in June this year. The directive requires employers to conduct a risk assessment that will guide the decision whether a mandatory workplace vaccination policy is necessary.
The intent is to get to herd immunity as soon as possible so that economic activity can restart in full. FEDUSA supports the drive to vaccinate the population but respects the constitutional, religious and medical rights of those who may feel different. While we remain positive and encourage fellow workers and South Africans to vaccinate – taking into cognisance the rights of those who not wish to vaccinate – this should in no way be interpreted as discouragement against the vaccine. FEDUSA’s position is driven by scientific evidence.
However, FEDUSA wants employers to consult widely with unions or other labour representatives on the constitutionality of such an approach before making it compulsory. Employers who choose to make vaccination compulsory, should clarify whether such a policy applies to all workers or certain categories of workers. Either way, sound and legitimate medical grounds should be given.
However, FEDUSA will uphold the right of workers who refuse to be vaccinated on constitutional, medical or religious grounds. The federation strongly supports the Consolidated Direction on Occupational Health and Safety Measures as published on the 25th of May 2021.
For interviews please contact:
Ms. Riefdah Ajam
FEDUSA General Secretary
079 696 2625
Mr Ashley Benjamin