The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) has taken the government and six companies to court for asking thousands of workers to get vaccinated with one of the Covid-19 vaccines else be prepared to get sacked. The ZCTU, which is an amalgamation of 35 labor unions in the African country, is representing 189,000 workers who have been ordered by their employers to get vaccinated. ZCTU has argued that by forcing this order the companies are “taking the law into their own hands”.
The court application has been addressed to the six companies along with attorney general Prince Machaya and minister for labor Paul Mavima. ZCTU has said, “Each person having fully considered the implications and effects of vaccination is expected to make a personal decision.” The union has placed an argument that with research around Covid-19 vaccines remaining in-process and inconclusive, “no person may be compelled to get vaccinated”.
The companies that have reportedly ordered their workers to stop coming for duty until they are vaccinated include state-owned Zimbabwe National Roads Administration (Zinara) and telecoms group TelOne, insurer Zimnat, fertilizer producer Windmill, agricultural group Seed Co and the Manicaland State University of Applied Sciences.
TelOne has gone one step further by threatening to cut Covid risk allowances of employees. “On 21 July 2021, TelOne issued a staff notice directing unvaccinated employees to go on immediate leave. The company also informed such employees of the withdrawal of the Covid-19 risk allowance,” reads the court application, dated 13 August.
Attorney General Machaya said that the claims by ZCTU are ill-informed and that none of the ministers and himself should have been cited in the court filing. “It is the duty of the cabinet and not that of this honorable court to compel the minister to enact legislation as well as subsidiary legislation. At the same time, both the respondents have no obligation to issue statutory instruments related to public health issues. This is the primary responsibility of the minister of health and childcare,” he said.