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Solidarity takes UFS to court over ' autocratic style' vaccine mandate

21 January 2022 9:58 AM
Tags:
Solidarity
UFS
mandatory vaccination policy
vaccine mandate

Breakfast host Refilwe Moloto chats to Solidarity's labour law head Anton Van Der Bijl and USAf operations boss Dr. Linda Meyer.
  • Solidarity is taking legal action against the University of the Free State (UFS) over its vaccination policy
  • The trade union's legal head Anton Van Der Bijl says employers cannot implement a "blanket approach" to vaccine mandates
  • Universities South Africa (USAf) operations boss Dr. Linda Meyer says institutions feel forced to take "drastic measures" to boost the vaccine uptake on campuses

FILE: The Health Sciences faculty at the University of the Free State. Picture: @UFSweb/Twitter.

Trade union Solidarity has announced that it is taking the University of the Free State (UFS) to court over the university’s mandate on Covid-19 vaccination.

Solidarity says it has served court papers on the UFS in order to challenge the institution's "autocratic" implementation of a mandatory vaccination policy.

RELATED: UWC to enforce mandatory jab policy with exemptions only for 'solid cases'

Anton Van Der Bijl, the head of Solidarity's labour law division, claims that UFS has implemented a vaccine policy without following due process as outlined by the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

The Act requires that employees conduct a risk assessment, consult with employees, and develop a comprehensive plan before introducing a mandatory vaccination policy.

Solidarity argues that the UFS and many other institutions have failed to do this.

"It doesn't happen. There's a wishy-washy blanket approach and employers use an autocratic style to say employees must vaccinate. We say that cannot happen", he tells CapeTalk.

RELATED: 'Draconian and underhanded' SA Union of Students blasts varsity vaccine mandates

Solidarity has spoken out against any form of “blanket approach” that does not take into account the unique situation of individual employees, students or workplace in each case.

Van Der Bijl says any decision regarding vaccination mandates must be practical, rational, and fair to employees.

RELATED: Busa: If staffers don't want to be vaxxed, they must test regularly for Covid-19

Meanwhile, Universities South Africa (USAf)'s Dr. Linda Meyer says some institutions feel they have to take "very drastic measures" in order to increase the vaccine uptake on campuses.

This case is not against vaccines. We have been criticised by many people claiming that we are against vaccines... Throughout this pandemic, we have made it clear that we see vaccines as effective.

Anton Van Der Bijl, Head of the Labour Legal Department - Solidarity

But this case is about the autocratic, blanket approach by employers and specifically by the University of the Free State when they apply a blanket approach to mandatory vaccinations.

Anton Van Der Bijl, Head of the Labour Legal Department - Solidarity

In terms of the Occupational Health and Safety Act, you need to look at the individual employees and you need to take a proper risk assessment and only thereafter there might be some exceptions where mandatory vaccinations can take place, but that hasn't happened at the University of the Free State.

Anton Van Der Bijl, Head of the Labour Legal Department - Solidarity

Some individuals have natural immunity due to being infected with Covid-19 and the university doesn't take that into account. We argue that prior to any mandatory vaccination, or when looking at vaccination, there must be a proper risk analysis by employers.

Anton Van Der Bijl, Head of the Labour Legal Department - Solidarity



21 January 2022 9:58 AM
Tags:
Solidarity
UFS
mandatory vaccination policy
vaccine mandate

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