The Southern African Clothing and Textile Workers’ Union (SACTWU) has reported that 74% of users of the union’s clinics are vaccinated against Covid, more than double the national average.
SACTWU said in a statement that 25,107 people registered in the union clinic system had received their vaccines, out of a total of 33,906 people.
In February 2021, SACTWU released a ten-point plan to promote vaccination against Covid, which included educating shop stewards and workers on the benefits of vaccination, dispelling popular anti-vaccination myths, and using the union and factory clinics to administer vaccines to workers.
Then in April, SACTWU and clothing employers signed a Covid-19 Vaccination Rollout Campaign Framework Agreement during a special meeting of the National Bargaining Council for the Clothing Manufacturing Industry of South Africa.
This agreement set out a plan to encourage vaccination among clothing and textile workers, with a goal of reaching an “industry immunity target” – an 80% worker vaccination rate.
According to SACTWU general secretary André Kriel, 320 SACTWU members have been admitted to hospital with Covid, and 56 have died from Covid-related causes. Of the hospital admissions, 92% were unvaccinated workers and just 1% were fully vaccinated. None of those who died from Covid-related causes were fully vaccinated.
On 29 November COSATU announced support for workplace vaccination mandates, citing fears among vaccinated workers that their unvaccinated colleagues were endangering their colleagues. “Any restrictions going forward must be imposed on those who fail to vaccinate,” said COSATU in a statement. “Those who vaccinate must be allowed to move on with life. Incentives and rewards should be used to encourage everyone to vaccinate.”
This declaration may be at odds with the clothing industry’s framework agreement that there should be no employment contract discrimination against those who decline to be vaccinated.
GroundUp sent questions on this and other matters of clarification to SACTWU, but has not received a response.