nehawu80TimesLive reports that the battle lines have been drawn in parliament with the National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) rejecting an instruction for staff to get Covid-19 vaccinations or be prepared to do PCR tests at their own expense when they go to the legislature.

On 10 June, then acting secretary to parliament Baby Tyawa wrote to parliament’s employees saying: “All employees of parliament are encouraged to vaccinate. Employees who are not vaccinated should have a valid Covid-19 negative test when going to the precinct which will be for their own cost. Those employees whose work pose a risk of transmission or a risk of severe Covid-19 disease or death due to their age or comorbidities will be requested to vaccinate or [be] handled according to a context specific approach.” But Nehawu, which represents an overwhelming majority of parliament’s workforce has rejected Tyawa’s call. Branch chairperson Sthembiso Tembe responded five days later objecting the “unilateral and draconian top down decision”. Tembe said while they had been supporting all the measures put in place to mitigate and shield parliament from the negative effect of the virus, there was no national legislation that empowerd employers to force workers to do a mandatory vaccination or Covid-19 test. He charged that the “unilateral directive” was in violation of a recognition agreement between Nehawu and parliament’s management. Tembe maintained that there was no consultation with the union and that even if there was such, they would not have agreed “with such an unreasonable decision”. “We stand ready and available to be consulted by the (newly-appointed) secretary and management of parliament in this regard, but you will find it hard to convince us to agree to such decision,” he indicated.

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