JOHANNESBURG - The Department of Trade, Industry and Competition (dtic) plans to close down companies that flout Covid-19 regulations to protect the well-being of employees, as the government reopens the economy and eases the lockdown.
Lionel October (pictured), the director-general of the department, told Parliament’s portfolio committee on trade and industry on Friday that the government had adopted a “no mercy” approach to firms that did not adhere to the regulations.
“The essential workers are most exposed. People working in the health sector and people working in the retail sector are vulnerable. We are adopting an approach where worker safety and protection is imperative. We are adopting an approach where we are saying there is no mercy. If people do not implement these regulations properly, they will close down.
The social contract is that we will have an opening of the economy on condition of protective measures being in place to protect employees,” October said, adding that the regulations were crucial because they addressed the safety of workers.
October said the department aimed to create jobs by procuring 20million masks from clothing manufacturers that would be used by schools. “The schools are going to need 20million masks.
About three weeks ago, we started working on that with the clothing industry, the Southern African Clothing and Textile Workers’ Union and with the Department of Basic Education to ensure that production of masks commences and that we create local jobs around this opportunity of producing masks for the country,” said October. He also said the department had launched a ventilator programme in the fight against Covid-19.