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CCMA rules company's decision to sack unvaccinated worker is 'substantively fair'

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CCMA rules company's decision to sack unvaccinated worker is 'substantively fair'

Covid-19 vaccine
Photo by Reuters

26th January 2022

By: News24Wire

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The Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) found that a company who fired a woman for refusing to be vaccinated acted fairly - and her sacking was upheld. 

In an arbitration award granted on 21 January, CCMA commissioner Lungile Matshaka ruled that Theresa Mulderiji's sacking by the Goldrush Group was "substantively fair".

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The matter was set down for an arbitration hearing on 10 January 2022. 

Mulderiji was employed as a business-related and training officer since 2018. 

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The company's executive committee voted in favour of a mandatory vaccination policy in 2021.

Handing down judgment, Matshaka said, "In my own sense of fairness, I can only conclude that the applicant is permanently incapacitated on the basis of her decision to not get vaccinated and, by implication, refusing to participate in the creation of a safe working environment."

Before implementing the policy, the company management spent three months consulting with workers and their unions.

According to the arbitration award, the workers had to confirm receipt of the mandatory workplace vaccination policy, that it was explained to them, and that they had read it.

On completion of the consultations, employees had to apply for exemption by completing the vaccination for review by the committee.

A representative of the company told Matshaka that the mandatory vaccination was implemented to protect workers.

A second witness from the company testified that Mulderiji failed or refused to be vaccinated.

The commissioner heard from the company witnesses that, because of the nature of Mulderiji's job,  she could not be moved to another position. 

Mulderiji's job, it was said, made her interact with site owners as well as employees.

In her evidence, Mulderiji said it was her constitutional human right to refuse to vaccinate.

The arbitration further stated that Mulderiji felt extreme social pressure and emotional discomfort after being subjected to deciding between her livelihood and accepting the vaccine.

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