Cape Town - Union federation Cosatu along with its affiliate, the SA Commercial Catering and Allied Workers Union (Saccawu), have vowed to challenge a letter received by staff at a Pick n Pay store in Wellington, which stated they had until Friday to provide proof of vaccination or face disciplinary action.
The leaked letter stated, “if you fail to provide your proof of vaccination by December 10 you will find yourselves in a disciplinary inquiry with the outcome of dismissal”.
Saccawu regional educator, and Pick n Pay union co-ordinator, Jan Kotzé, said they had noted the news about a store in Wellington, and they had taken it up from the union side through the negotiating committee members in the province, which had taken it up directly with the company.
Kotzé said the letter created confusion and the impression that mandatory vaccination could be rolled out at Pick n Pay stores.
He said members of the public see Pick n Pay, but they don’t know if it’s a corporation, a store owned by Pick n Pay or a franchise.
“We understand that the store is a franchise, but this is a Pick n Pay brand.”
Pick n Pay said almost all the staff at the independently owned Pick n Pay franchise store in Wellington had been fully vaccinated for months already.
It said the store continued to engage with the very small handful of outstanding staff on the new policy.
“While our corporate stores do not have a mandatory vaccination policy, we support the national objective of encouraging as many people to get vaccinated as soon as possible to ensure the safety of our staff and customers,” Pick n Pay said.
Kotzé said the matter was now at the national level, and was going to be discussed to clarify the company’s stance.
“We know as the union that there was no such a thing as a mandatory vaccination, and we should encourage members and the public in general to take the vaccination voluntarily,” he said.
Cosatu provincial secretary, Malvern de Bruyn, said they had received two complaints from workers, one from the Pick n Pay in Wellington, and the other from a farm in Piketberg, that had been allegedly forcing staff to be vaccinated.
De Bruyn said the union would take the cases to the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration and they would not sit back when their members were being victimised.
He said at least five people had been dismissed, and a woman served with a notice for eviction for allegedly refusing to be vaccinated.