The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) congratulates its affiliated union in the banking and financial services sector, SASBO, for forcing Standard Bank to scrap its illegal mandatory vaccination programme. We call for the immediate reinstatement of forty (40) bank workers, who were unfairly dismissed by Standard Bank for not vaccinating against Covid-19.
The Federation believes that dismissals of any worker must be avoided at all costs.
COSATU supports the vaccine roll out programme and as organised Labour we believe that education and addressing the fears of workers and society is the best way to persuade people to vaccinate. Threatening and dismissing workers only serves to poison what has already become a very charged and divided debate across the world.
Vaccinations cannot be the sole responsibility of workers. Only 14 million out of South Africa’s 60 million people are employed. If we are to achieve the 70% vaccination levels, then this must be a society wide approach and not one that is simply dumped upon workers. This has the futile effect of raising workplace tensions and thus undermining labour market stability.
The Federation calls on all workers who have been dismissed to approach their unions and lodge grievances with the CCMA and Labour Courts. Unions will assist any worker threatened with disciplinary action, including dismissal.
The most effective way to address these matters is for all workplaces to abide by the Department of Employment and Labour Regulations on workplace vaccinations. These require employers to undertake a needs-based assessment of their workplaces and to engage with workers and unions on their vaccination policies. This includes providing reasonable accommodation for those who have not vaccinated and may include exemptions for medical, religious, or constitutional reasons. It also includes allowing affected workers to work remotely or from alternative sites in their workplaces.
South Africa is a constitutional democracy, and this means that we need sober employers to work with stakeholders to resolve complex and sensitive matters. Dismissing workers who have fears only serves to create divisions. This is a distraction that we cannot afford when we should all be working together to encourage people to vaccinate, to save lives and livelihoods.
Issued by COSATU
Sizwe Pamla (Cosatu National Spokesperson)
Tel: 011 339 4911
Cell: 060 975 6794