Cosatu not happy with government's slow Covid-19 vaccination rollout

20 May 2021 - 14:47
Cosatu says there needs to be a balance between the rights of individual workers and ensuring that workplaces do not become Covid-19 hotspots or super-spreaders. File photo.
Cosatu says there needs to be a balance between the rights of individual workers and ensuring that workplaces do not become Covid-19 hotspots or super-spreaders. File photo.
Image: SUNDAY TIMES

Tripartite alliance partner Cosatu has slammed the government’s slow pace in the rolling out the Covid-19 vaccine, saying the “excuses are unacceptable and unjustifiable”.

“We hope that government will iron out the bureaucratic inadequacies that have led to many delays in the vaccination process, since the beginning of the year. Reaching the 67% population immunity level is critical to saving lives and livelihoods,” Cosatu said in a statement released on Thursday.

The labour federation held a three-day ordinary central executive committee (CEC) meeting, in which it discussed organisational, political, international and socioeconomic issues facing workers and the working class in general.

It said the government needs to ensure that public and private vaccination sites are accessible, especially in rural areas.

The criticism comes after the government this week began phase 2 of the Covid-19 vaccination programme focusing on citizens older than 60. The vaccination rollout has been marred by delays and, at times, misinformation and confusion.

Cosatu said there needed to be a balance between the rights of individual workers and ensuring that workplaces do not become Covid-19 hotspots or super-spreaders.

“The federation will not allow any employer to dismiss any worker who chooses to exercise their constitutional right to freedom of choice and opts out of the vaccination process. While we support the vaccine rollout plan, healthcare consent is a pillar of medical ethics and medical treatment.”

However, Cosatu said: “We urge all workers to ensure that they and their elderly relatives register to receive the vaccines. The vaccines are critical in the battle against Covid-19. All South Africans must continue to wear masks, sanitise and socially distance.”

The federation also pledged its support to public sector unions, saying it hoped that ongoing negotiations would result in a settlement to avert a possible strike.

On Monday, TimesLIVE reported that the government tabled a revised offer of a 1.5% salary increase and a R979 cash gratuity for a year in a bid to end the stalemate in the public sector wage negotiations.

Cosatu said unions in the public service and private sector should increase their co-operation and partnerships, “and not allow narrow disagreements and tactical differences to divide them”.

On the economy, Cosatu says it is concerned about the pace at which the government and business are moving to implement their commitments under the economic recovery and reconstruction plan.

Regarding the ANC, the meeting again noted and debated the developments on the step-aside rule. Cosatu again reiterated its support and respect for internal ANC processes.

“The federation has been consistent in its call for a more assertive ANC national executive committee (NEC) in dealing with political ill-discipline and corruption in the organisation and in government. This is what the majority of workers and members want.”

This is in relation to the recent suspension of ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule after his refusal to abide by the party's step-aside resolution.

The resolution, which was adopted during the ANC’s national conference in Nasrec in 2017, compels members who are facing corruption or criminal charges to step aside from their positions.

“We unwaveringly support all efforts to push back against those who are hell-bent on using the organisation as an instrument of individual accumulation, whether via the state or through business connections.”  

The meeting called on the ANC to identify the right candidates for the upcoming local government elections taking place in October.

Furthermore, a decision was made to convene a political school.  

On the international front, Cosatu discussed issues affecting Mozambique, Swaziland and the conflict between Israel and Palestine.

The federation movement called for the Israeli regime to be hauled before the International Criminal Court for war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity.

TimesLIVE


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