MultiChoice slammed as being discriminatory, ordered to compensate mistreated staff

A South African arbitration panel has slammed MultiChoice as being discriminatory and pursuing unfair Covid-19 vaccination policy in the matter involving a former employee, Donaldson Mofokeng.

The Pay-TV company was told that its decision to dismiss Mofokeng over his refusal to take Covid-19 vaccination was ‘unfair’.

The company had declared Mofokeng  “permanently incapacitated” and refused him entry into its premises when he showed up for work.

The Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) ruled on 12 December  that MultiChoice Support Services (Pty) Ltd had not provided any evidence that the Covid-19 vaccine would protect Mofokeng or his colleagues and that the dismissal of the unvaccinated employee was thus “substantively unfair”.

The CCMA ordered the media company to compensate Mofokeng eight months’ salary totalling R104 150. MultiChoice have announced they will take the matter on review to the Labour Court.

According to evidence submitted, Mofokeng was prevented from entering his workplace at MultiChoice’s premises on 3 February this year, by a security guard, who Mofokeng alleged assaulted him.

He was instructed to take a Covid-19 test if he wanted to continue working for MultiChoice, but said he could not afford the test and declined to be vaccinated.

He was dismissed on 22 April for “permanent incapacity”.

The Commission ruled that “the Respondent’s vaccination policy is discriminatory in that employees who decided not to vaccinate were treated unfairly.

“Vaccinated employees are allowed to access the workplace, whereas vaccinated and unvaccinated can still get the virus and transmit it.”

Mofokeng approached the CCMA after MultiChoice refused him an “exemption” in terms of its vaccination policy and declared him “permanently incapacitated”.

Mofokeng had applied for the exemption by invoking his constitutional right to bodily integrity. The Commission went on to say that “the onus of proving the fairness of the dismissal for incapacity was on the Respondent; and the Respondent did not lead any evidence on how the Applicant was declared permanently incapable of performing his duties because of his refusal to vaccinate”.

“The Respondent had a duty to show that the Applicant was a risk to other workers, and also that the Applicant was at risk of contracting and transmitting the virus, compared to vaccinated employees.”

“The Respondent failed to prove that the Applicant was incapable of performing his duties, because of his failure to vaccinate… there was no reason for the dismissal of the Applicant.”

Mofokeng’s attorney – Kgwaedi Setlago issued a media statement claiming that “currently there exists no medical or scientific evidence or conclusive opinion that says an unvaccinated individual possesses a health and/or safety risk (of infection or transmission) to those around him”.

The employee’s contention was that there is no scientific evidence to suggest that being vaccinated prevents one from getting infected, nor does it prevent one from infecting others with the virus. In fact, as held by the employee, those who are vaccinated remain a risk of infection and transmission like those who did not vaccinate, thus rendering both groups of employees susceptible to the same or similar risks.”

“In fact, the current scientific data as reported by various publications across the globe indicate that the number of deaths amongst the vaccinated have surpassed those of the unvaccinated since the vaccines have been rolled out.”

In a “holding statement” from MultiChoice, spokesperson, Itumeleng Thulare said the company had noted the CCMA ruling and “believed clarity is required from the Labour Court on these matters where employees have refused to be vaccinated, given the conflicting awards issued during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic to date.



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