Friday | 24 April | 2020
It is key to understand that the health of the people of South Africa is not negotiable and that it must be prioritised. However, it is not beneficial to the country, the economy and the people of South Africa if the physical threat is overcome without at the same time limiting the economic threats and enabling the economy to function and survive the Covid-19 storm.
Physical well-being is not the only ingredient for people to be healthy – it also requires a healthy economy achieved through healthy work.
Health and the economy should not be seen as enemies of one another, but rather that they work in harmony with one another. It is of the utmost importance that healthy people work and stay healthy at work.
Solidarity is concerned about the consequences of the loss of income as a result of the state of lockdown in South Africa which are causing poverty and suffering and may lead to rioting. That is why it is important to enable people to earn an income again as soon as possible without compromising the health of our people.
For these reasons Solidarity came up with guidelines that include proposed good practices. This code of good practice together with far-reaching proposals to modify the lockdown measures have been submitted to Pres Ramaphosa and several ministers. Click here for Solidarity’s proposed code of good practice, measures to ensure healthy and decent work during and after the Covid-19 pandemic.
According to Dr Dirk Hermann, Solidarity’s chief executive, the trade union proposed this series of amendments to the regulations so that people could start returning to work during the lockdown period. “South Africans must begin to return to a new normal. The lockdown in its current format will have to be modified. The corona virus is going to be with us for a long time to come. We will have to find a sustainable answer for healthy work. If people are unable to work, it will put so much pressure on any lockdown that the lockdown itself will implode. We need to find a solution to protect the physical and economic well-being of South Africans. We have to be fearless against the virus and fearless in favour of the economy,” Hermann said.
The objectives of this code of good practice
The aim of Solidarity’s proposed code of practice is to ensure the health and safety of all employees in any workplace in South Africa. Furthermore, the code stipulates that a full assessment of the risks to the health and safety of employees returning to work must be done at all workplaces. Only once an employer has properly assessed the work environment and the necessary changes have been made can government or other stakeholders
The purpose of this code of practice is to also provide guidance on leading practices and give practical recommendations for consideration during the process of the investigation by government and other stakeholders into the viability of a turnaround plan for businesses during and after the lockdown period to:
- Limit job losses and social decay;
- Enable the state to generate tax revenue;
- Improve the sustainability of businesses; and to
- Enable workers to earn income and to support their dependents while staying in good health.
The Code of Practice also provides for the implementation of decisions to enable businesses to carry on with their operations and enable workers to continue with their work without putting the health of people at risk.
This Code of Practice can also help employers respond to the health-threatening occurrence of Covid-19 in the workplace and determine what steps they should consider and put in place to protect the health and safety of employees.
According to Hermann the trade union is hopeful that the government will realise the urgency of creating a dispensation where employees could start returning to the workplace.“No South African’s life should be placed at risk, but an extension of the very severe lockdown regulations will create an economic catastrophe that will also destroy people’s lives. That, too, has to be avoided. We are convinced that our comprehensive proposals that will allow workers to systematically return to the workplace are workable and essential,” Hermann said.
* All information was correct at the time of publication.