SAPTU would like to urge all South Africans to consider the health of friends, family and colleagues when deciding on vaccination against the coronavirus. With members employed in the public health sector, including the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD), we experience first-hand the effect of the virus and complications thereof.
“According to the NICD, the vast majority of patients admitted to hospital due to the new Omicron variant are unvaccinated,” says Adv Ben van der Walt, the general secretary of SAPTU (South African Parastatal and Tertiary Institutions Union). “It is clear that the coronavirus will be with us for the unforeseeable future. Therefore, we now have to consider the country as a whole, the health system, and the effect on the economy against the individual.”
SAPTU still stands by the view that no employer should be able to enforce mandatory jabs without input from employees and their representative unions. Employers should offer employees who choose not to vaccinate – on whichever grounds – acceptable alternative options before suspending employment.
“We have heard varying opinions and beliefs regarding vaccinations from our members,” says Adv Van der Walt. “Their concerns are valid, and our priority is always to protect the employment of our members. Neither employers nor the government should make it mandatory for employees to get vaccinated. In turn, employees who wish not to vaccinate should take the proper precautionary steps to ensure their community’s health. But the final decision should lie with the individual.”