The United National Breweries SA (UNB) which is the leading manufacturer of Traditional African Sorghum Beer (Umqombothi) has set a target of vaccinating 90% of all its workers by middle or towards the end of September 2021.
However, some employees are up in arms about the company’s plans and say this is aimed at making Covid-19 vaccines compulsory for all employees.
According to a circular issued by the company, employees who want to exercise their constitutional rights of not getting vaccinated will be requested on a weekly basis to provide proof that they are not positive and the cost will be on the employee.
“All vaccinated employees will get a free T-shirt branded with the company products. The company’s target is 90% by middle or towards the end of September 2021. All our contractors/suppliers are encouraged to do the same in order to provide a safe working environment,” stated the circular.
An employee at the company, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the latest communique by the company done via word of mouth, contradicts the company’s previous stance of encouraging workers to get vaccinated.
“We have been told that if we are not vaccinated by September 16 and cannot produce proof that you are Covid-19 negative, you will not be paid or allowed to enter the company premises. For many of us who do not want to get vaccinated we will not be able to provide these weekly tests, as the costs are high, which leaves us with the only option of vaccinating whether we want to or not,” said the employee.
Last week, Discovery announced that it would make it mandatory for all staff to get vaccinated from the start of 2022.
Discovery said that the mandatory vaccination policy recognises employees' "right to object to the vaccination", and will include a process to consider the "employee’s health, religious and other legal rights and seek to balance these with the rights of all employees across the group".
Meanwhile, Sasol employees have also received an internal letter stating that the company had approached the Mpumalanga department of health to request approval for a mass vaccination of its employees, as well as its service providers.
Some workers at the chemicals company are said to have railed against the letter, and see it as encroaching on their individual rights to accept or reject vaccination.
Labour union Cosatu said while they encourage workers to get vaccinated they reject any insinuations of mandatory vaccinations.
“There’s no worker that should be discriminated against or lose their jobs because they refuse to take the Covid-19 vaccine.Employers must find creative ways to encourage their workers to the vaccines rather than threatening them,” said Cosatu's first deputy president Mike Shingange.