business

Jan. 7, 2022

NEO SENOKO

2 min read

Employers to face backlash for sacking unvaccinated workers

Employers to face backlash for sacking unvaccinated workers

NACTWU Secretary General, Sam Mokhele

Story highlights

  • PM said all workers should be vaccinated against COVID-19 without fail
  • Unions have warned employers not to fire workers who are not keen to get their jab

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EMPLOYERS in the textile and apparel industry could face a serious backlash and lawsuits if employees who are not inoculated are fired.

This, after Prime Minister (PM) Dr Moeketsi Majoro this week revealed during his nation address that employers in both the public and private sectors should make sure that all staff members were vaccinated against the COVID-19 pandemic without fail.

“Cabinet has approved a decision that all employers ensure that all employees have been vaccinated,” he said, adding that those included workers from government institutions as well as the private sector.

The National Clothing Textile and Allied Workers Union (NACTWU) has warned that employees who are not willing to get vaccinated should not be fired, citing infringement of human rights among other things.

NACTWU said it was the responsibility of each individual to vaccinate in order to be safe against the pandemic but argued that those who were not willing should be allowed not to vaccinate.

“We are looking into this matter very closely following the announcement,” NACTWU Secretary General, Sam Mokhele told Metro on Tuesday.

“We agree and also encourage people to get vaccinated, but at the same time no one should be forced to do so. We will take legal actions against any employer in the sector who will release employees for not vaccinating.”

The textile and apparel industry in Lesotho, which is also the country’s largest employer with more than 40 000 workers, has been the hardest hit by the effects of the pandemic, resulting in huge job losses.

The negative impact of COVID-19 pandemic and disruptions in the supply chains have been labelled as the main reasons for such major job losses and closing of other big firms such as renowned denim wear manufacturer, Nien Hsing International.

The continuous retrenchment and closure of firms means that the country’s economy, which is already subdued will remain on a downward trajectory.  

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The Lesotho Textile Exporters Association on the other hand expressed satisfaction on government decisions, saying that the textile and apparel industry would have one of the highest infection rates if people were not vaccinated due to the fact that the factories employed many people. 

 “This is a good thing because if people are not vaccinated, our economy also becomes negatively affected during hard lockdowns,” said ’Malikhabiso Majara from the Textile Exporters Association.

“So it is a good thing to encourage people to get vaccinated. But laws should also be clear in that regard to avoid any inconveniences.”

Ms Majara said her association held meetings with employers in the sector, where it was emphasised that employees should get vaccinated to avoid future economic losses owing to loss of lives.

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