After the emergence of a new variant along with a fourth wave of infections, the conversations around mandatory Covid-19 vaccination are getting louder. Now, the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) has responded.
While no one in South Africa is forced to take a Covid-19 vaccine, President Cyril Ramaphosa has set up a task team to investigate mandatory vaccinations.
Minister of Employment and Labour Thulsa Nxesi recently announced that the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac) will support Business Unity SA in approaching the constitutional court. They will be seeking a declaratory order on mandatory vaccinations to ensure that regardless of the decision the government makes, it must fall within the country’s constitution.
AMCU says they are opposed to mandatory vacation in the workplace. AMCU President, Joseph Mathunjwa, said, “We will not allow government and business to sit with their sweetheart unions and agree on things that will affect the total workforce of South Africa”.
Krister Janse van Rensburg, the head of organisational development for the labour movement, AMCU says they would oppose this. He says an application like this will cite the interested parties. If the union and its workers are not cited, he says they will apply to intervene. He adds that while AMCU do support vaccination, they are of the view that it should be voluntary.
Janse van Rensburg said, “we do support vaccination as long as it's voluntary as long as it does not intrude on our members constitutional rights, specifically their rights to bodily integrity, their rights to privacy and also their rights to religious freedom, so that has been our response all along”.
He points out that President Ramaphosa initially said no one will be forced to take the vaccine. However, the last time Ramaphosas addressed the nation, this sentiment has changed. He says the issue of vaccination should be escalated to the level of an individual company.
Janse van Rensburg says AMCU finds it strange that Minister Nxesi has energy when it comes to mandatory vaccinations but doesn't have the same energy when it comes to the death of mineworkers.
He said, “When we as AMCU appeal to them to amend the minority safety act then there is a lot of resistance but then when it comes to something like this of mandatory vaccines there's a lot of energy especially through Nedlac”.