The Federation of Unions in South Africa (FEDUSA) has backed the government’s plans to consider the feasibility of COVID-19 mandatory vaccines in South Africa and barring unvaccinated people from accessing certain areas and facilities.
In a statement on Tuesday (30 November), FEDUSA said social partners at the National Economic Development and Labour Council (NEDLAC) should be given the opportunity to investigate this possibility.
Feasibility of COVID-19 mandatory vaccines in South Africa
“This should be in addition to investigating the feasibility of restricting access by unvaccinated individuals to shared spaces and public facilities such as workplaces, public transport, restaurants, grocery stores, hospitals and places of worships,” the trade union federation said.
“The outcomes of such investigations and consultations should strike a good balance between public health concerns, constitutional provisions, cultural and religious beliefs and the imperatives of economic recovery and reconstruction.”
Consultations should also focus on whether or not the Occupational Health and Safety Act and the Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act should be amended “to include COVID-19 as an occupational disease that triggers fair compensation for affected workers,” it added.
Around 24 percent of South Africans are fully vaccinated at the moment. This is a far cry from the 67 percent needed to achieve herd immunity, fuelling calls for mandatory vaccination.
On Sunday, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced the establishment of a task team to investigate the possibility of introducing mandatory vaccines for specific activities and locations.
“The task team will report to the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Vaccination chaired by the Deputy President, which will make recommendations to Cabinet on a fair and sustainable approach to vaccine mandates,” Ramaphosa said.
“We realise that the introduction of such measures is a difficult and complex issue, but if we do not address this seriously and as a matter of urgency, we will continue to be vulnerable to new variants and will continue to suffer new waves of infection.”
FEDUSA is the second trade union federation to back this move after the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU).
“COSATU welcomes the President’s establishment of a task team to investigate, engage and propose the modalities for requiring vaccinations at public venues. This is a conversation that South Africa needs to have as a matter of urgency,” it said on Monday.
“Vaccines have been proven to be highly effective and safe. They are free and accessible. They, along with wearing masks, sanitising and social distancing, are the only weapons to defeat this pandemic which has taken the lives of more than 90,000 South Africans.”