Namcor’s unvaccinated employees pushed in tight corner

Tujoromajo Kasuto

From Monday of this week the National Petroleum Corporation of Namibia (Namcor)’s unvaccinated employees are expected to provide a negative PCR test results weekly at their own cost.

In addition disciplinary measures will be taken against those absent (forced leave) for more than two days. This was revealed in a letter addressed to an employee by Human Capital Executive, Maryke Krohne, as per the Managing Director Immanuel Mulunga directive. By it employees were given until 19 November, 2021 to get vaccinated.

Mulunga stated that employees who do not want to be vaccinated against Covid-19, may be obliged to work from home to limit physical interactions with coworkers and reduce the risk of infection. According to media reports, this directive led to resistance from employees threatening to approach the High Court claiming they were not “guinea pigs”.

Letshego Namibia had also already announced that with effect from February 1st, they will prohibit workers who have not been vaccinated from entering their premises. All employees are required to be fully vaccinated by 31 January if they wish to enter its offices.

In a briefing to employees the Chief Executive officer (CEO), Ester Kali, said employees who are not vaccinated will not be allowed to enter the premises in the interest of maintaining a safe and healthy working environment, and as a result should work from home with limited support.

Last October, the Chief of Defence, Martin Pinehas, ordered the compulsory vaccination of all soldiers maintaining they were at liberty to choose their preferred vaccines but only those with medical issues, with hypersensitivity and those allergic to vaccine components, would be exempted.

President Hage Geingob and Minister of Health and Social Services, Dr Kalumbi Shangula, have over the last few months been maintaining that vaccinations are strictly voluntary but highlighting that there are consequences to those who choose not to get vaccinated as a vaccination card might become mandatory to enter certain places.
Minister of Defence and Veteran Affairs, Frans Kapofi, reasoned that a vast majority of soldiers live in barracks at army bases and the vaccine would help limit the spread of Covid-19.

The Legal Assistance Center (LAC) maintains the Namibian Constitution protects the right to personal liberty, the right to human dignity and the right to carry on any occupation, trade or business. These rights would arguably be restricted by a vaccine mandate for employees.

The important question is whether a vaccination requirement enforced by individual companies to preserve the health of their employees would be a reasonable infringement of such rights.

However, LAC notes that Namibia’s Labour Act gives employers a duty to protect the health of their workers and any members of the public who come into contact with the workplace but adds that only Namibian courts may assess whether vaccination requirements are constitutional.

 

By Observer