The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) notes President Cyril Ramaphosa’s announcement of additional measures in the fight against COVID-19. The Federation is deeply concerned with the rapid rise in the rate of infections and deaths due to COVID-19. We intend to work with our affiliates to ensure that workers are protected and that they continue to play their role in the fight against this pandemic.
The new announced health and safety measures will only succeed if government intensify its enforcement efforts. Pandemic fatigue has led to many people failing to comply with health protocols and regulations and many of them walk without donning their masks.
A disturbing number of taxi operators ignore the requirements to sanitise and open windows. Many taverns and shebeens allow excessive drinking and no social distancing. The law enforcement services need to crack down and not turn a blind eye to those who place the lives and jobs of all South Africans at risk.
The Federation supports the additional health and safety measures announced by the President, including the extension of the curfew, restrictions on the sale of liquor and the reduction of numbers in public gatherings. These should help ease the pressure on hospitals and health care workers and save lives.
More needs to be done to reinforce our healthcare institutions and to our health care workers who have continued to make the nation proud in their tireless efforts to save lives, often at great cost to themselves and their families.
Whilst welcoming these measures, relief needs to be provided to those sectors of the economy affected like the liquor value chain, sports, and events sectors. Engagements on possible relief to these sectors needs to be sped up at Nedlac.
Relief cannot only come from the Unemployment Insurance Fund. Treasury, the banks, and insurance industry need to come to the party and contribute to relief to workers and businesses who cannot trade due to the disaster management restrictions.
COSATU remains deeply disappointed at the tepid pace of the roll out of the vaccines. The recent increase in dispensing vaccines is welcome but far from enough and government must move with much greater speed to procure, receive, distribute, and dispense the vaccines.
The public and economy cannot sustain restrictions and periodic lockdowns. All vaccine sites must be made operational and vaccinate seven days a week. A daily vaccination rate of anything less than 200 000 is simply unacceptable and we expect that government and the healthcare sector to do better.
The Federation urges every health care worker and over 60 years old persons to register now. There is no room for procrastination and SASSA must play its part in helping the elderly to register. Family members need to actively help the elderly relatives.
Issued by COSATU
Sizwe Pamla (Cosatu National Spokesperson)
Tel: 011 339 4911
Cell: 060 975 6794