Statement by COSATU Public Service Unions on COVID-19

We, the Joint Mandating Committee (JMC) of COSATU with all its seven unions (DENOSA, NEHAWU, PAWUSA, POPCRU, SADTU, SAEPU, and SAMA,   organising in the public sector met on the eve of the implementation of a lockdown as declared by the president of the country and wish to declare the following:

On COVID -19

We support the intervention initiatives by the government to combat the rampaging spread of Covid-19 which since the first infection has grown at a speed that is beyond control. At the core of arresting this vigorous spread of the virus is the effective preventative measures. It’s our conviction that all citizens in our country obligated to adhere o all the regulations as passed and have a role to play through outlined measures like social distancing and washing of hands. We implore all our people to be compassionate and extend solidarity with our fellow human beings across the country and the globe. We further implore our government and private sector health institutions to work together in providing all the necessary resources and services for curative interventions.

Health workers are on the frontline of the economic, social and health impacts of the crisis, and while workers in every sector are exposed to risk, we fully recognise the courage of health and care workers bearing the immediate brunt of mitigation and treatment. We commend our members in the police, soldiers, nurses, doctors, transportation services, grocery stores workers and all components who provide essential services during these challenging times. We know that when all of us are locked down they will be hard at work to help the country to deal with this epidemic.

We further call on all employers in particular those in the grocery markets to prioritise the rights and welfare of workers as we collectively respond to enormous demands posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

We are willing to work with our government to ensure that we collectively win the war against this pandemic. The responsibility to wage war against this virus is on all of us including the broader society. We further want to commend the active citizenry and appreciate the responsibility shown by all in complying with the set regulations meant to curb the spread.

We want to raise some serious concerns especially with the lack of clear protocols in most of the workplaces. After interrogating Circular 15 of 2020 released by the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA) titled STATE OF DISASTER: Directions in Respect of Service Delivery and Business Continuity for Public Service during Covid -19.  

The circular promulgates for the continuation of critical services and business continuity yet there are no proper guidelines to govern the implementation.  Much as we agree with business continuity, we must however be provided with all necessary protective measures in all areas that are deemed critical services. It is very alarming to find that there are no running waters in some clinic, while at other workstation we do not have sanitizers.

We have since learnt that this virus is one of the opportunistic which is more dangerous to those with existing secondary illnesses. We have from among workers those that are vulnerable due to their health status and thus call for them to be exempted from compulsory work. A determination of special leave is not yet out, and it is worrying that workers will have to use their leave as there is no pronouncement on categorisation of Covid -19 and an occupational health disease.  The released circular 11 of 2020 does not address all the concerned raised on leave dispensation and management of leave in this period of Covid-19 virus.     

Collectively we will win this battle.

Issued on behalf of JMC

Comrade Mugwena Maluleke

(Convener of JMC)

082 783 2968