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By Marizka Coetzer

Journalist


Companies scrap mandatory vaccine policies – will dismissed employees be reinstated?

Standard Bank South Africa chief executive Lungisa Fuzile said the bank had withdrawn its Covid vaccination policy after 95% of its employees were vaccinated.


After bloodshed, tears and unfair dismissals, big companies are scrapping the mandatory vaccine policies, as the infections seemed to have stabilised.

Sasbo – The Finance Union assistant general secretary Eugene Ebersohn said the trade union was aware that both Old Mutual and Santam had recalled their mandatory vaccination policies.

“We have always believed in the vaccine and the science behind it,” he said. “We also believe each person should have the right to decide if they want to get vaccinated against Covid.

“Standard Bank expected all their employees to be fully vaccinated to enter their premises. The result was that around 40 employees were dismissed who were not vaccinated.

“When the government ended the Covid regulations a few weeks ago, we asked Standard Bank to repeal its mandatory vaccination policy. The bank initially refused and said all their policies are under review,” he added.

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Ebersohn said the bank had informed the trade union on Monday that it will no longer require its employees to be vaccinated.

“The elephant in the room remains those employees who were dismissed for not being vaccinated. The union has written to the bank’s CEO, demanding those employees be reinstated without delay,” he said.

Standard Bank South Africa chief executive Lungisa Fuzile said the bank had withdrawn its Covid vaccination policy after 95% of its employees were vaccinated.

Head of communications at Old Mutual Vuyo Mtawa said it had announced an amendment to its workplace vaccination policy on 22 June.

“This is in line with emerging developments of the virus itself, the national regulatory environment, as well as its internal context with over 90% of its workforce now vaccinated.

“With the amendment, Old Mutual’s mandatory vaccination requirement for employees is no longer in place,” he said.

Mtawa said Old Mutual remained pro-vaccination, as it believed it was society’s best defence against the Covid pandemic.

“Old Mutual will continue to encourage both existing and new employees to get fully vaccinated, as well as monitor ongoing developments with the virus,” he said.

“If necessary, and following a thorough risk assessment, appropriate actions will be implemented, including reinstatement of mandatory vaccines.”

Fuzile has not responded to when or if fired employees will return to work.

Eftyhia Vardas, head of clinical virology at Lancet laboratories and an honorary professor of medical virology at the University of Stellenbosch, said vaccination remained the most effective way to protect individuals from illness and severe consequences of Covid.

Vardas explained in certain high-risk situations, like hospitals and old-age homes, vaccination mandates were enforced for all medical and non-medical staff to protect high-risk individuals in those environments from getting Covid.

“Vaccination mandates were also applied to other congregate settings where many people come close together like prisons, universities and schools, to protect the individuals themselves and to break the transmission cycles.”

Democratic Alliance shadow MEC health Jack Bloom said citizens should still get vaccinated.
“We are still vulnerable to a new wave,” he said.

Bloom said the National Institute for Communicable Diseases of South Africa had published the daily infection rate this week.

“It indicated one in six infections could be reinfections,” he said. “People can get reinfected after being infected before.

“The last wave of infections was much lower than the previous one, especially the hospitalisation. We can attribute [that] to vaccinations.”

– marizkac@citizen.co.za

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