The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) says it is opposed to the compulsory vaccination of workers against Covid-19 and will challenge the government on the contentious issue in Court this Thursday.
As part of measures to curb the spiralling Covid-19 cases, which have now reached 100 000, the government has made it mandatory for all civil servants to take the Covid-19 jabs, with the Public Service Commission (PSC) having announced recently that their buses will only ferry vaccinated employees.
Information Minister, Monica Mutsvangwa is also on record having said that unvaccinated civil servants who contract the coronavirus will not be entitled to the government’s Covid-19 insurance.
Some companies and organisations have also threatened employees who resist inoculations that they risk losing their jobs and other employment benefits. This is despite the government having said earlier before the mass vaccination that only willing Zimbabweans would be inoculated. “Employment relationship is a personal contract, so both employer and employee have rights and obligations,” ZCTC president, Peter Mutasa, told CITE.
“So an employer cannot be allowed to arbitrarily determine that if a worker is not vaccinated they are not going to get full salary, they are not going to use a company vehicle, they are not going to get allowances; that is not right. That is unfair discrimination. So as labour, we are already going to court, we are going to challenge the constitutionality of those pronouncements and practices and we believe we are on the right side of the constitution.”
Mutasa said while the government has the right to regulate citizens especially during public health crises, like this global pandemic, it has to act lawfully.
“We believe that both government and private sector employers, who are embarking on arbitrary practices that discriminate against workers, are doing so unlawfully,” he said. “The constitution of this country protects workers against unfair discrimination, unreasonable and unjustifiable discrimination. This is in terms of Section 56. The constitution of this country also protects the rights of workers to their opinion and to their conscience including religious beliefs, political opinions and opinions towards the vaccination programme.”
He further emphasized: “We cannot have the government limit those rights without following the dictates of the constitution. If the government or any employer wishes to limit the constitutional rights of workers against unfair discrimination, which is allowed in the constitution, the government has to follow the provisions of the constitution. In this case, the government has to promulgate a law of general application that sets out clearly the rights and obligations of each party. In this case, the government has not come up with any law so each employer is doing what they want, government departments are doing what they want.”
Source: Centre for Innovation and Technology