Unions vow court action after civil servants given vaccine ultimatum

HARARE – Public sector workers who do not take the Covid-19 vaccine will be barred from work and denied pay, the Public Service Commission said on Wednesday – immediately setting itself on a collision course with unions.In a statement, PSC secretary Jonathan Wutawunashe said they had taken the decision following a decree issued by Cabinet a day earlier.“In line with the Cabinet decision, all civil servants will be vaccinated without delay and unvaccinated members shall not be allowed to report for duty and will not be deemed to be working,” Wutawunashe said.“All heads of ministries are, therefore, urged to make arrangements for all civil servants under their jurisdiction to be vaccinated, and to explain to any who elect no to be vaccinated that they will not be deemed to be working.”Unions vowed to go to court, describing the directive as draconian.“We are approaching the courts to challenge mandatory vaccination,” the Amalgamated Rural Teachers’ Union said in a statement, even as it Added: “We however continue to urge our members and all citizens to get vaccinated. The vaccines are safe and effective.”Progressive Teachers’ Union president Takavafira Zhou said the announcement was “at best a fantasy, and at worst ill-conceived and unfortunate.”“Fundamentally, the government’s approach is not also the best way to encourage people to be vaccinated. Rather, the government must invest in explaining the efficacy of vaccination,” Zhou said.Manuel Nyawo, the Zimbabwe National Teachers Union CEO said: “We will not allow the wanton and unwarranted criminalisation and victimisation of our members by a jurisprudential Cabinet that deliberately twists and undermines the law to meet its selfish ends in total and blatant violation of our constitutional rights.”Zimbabwe Confederation of Public Sector Trade Unions secretary general David Dzatsunga said: “Our view is that decisions of that nature need to be a product of consultation between workers and employers so as to avoid disharmony.“There should be a clear national vaccine mandate that derives from consultation at the level of the National Joint Negotiating Council (NJNC) or Tripartite Negotiating Forum (TNF) so as to avoid victimisation of individuals who may have objections.”The government says about 90 percent of its 300,000 employees have taken the vaccines. It says some among the hesitant 10 percent have not done so for medical reasons, and these will be excused from mandatory vaccination.—Kukurigo

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