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SOME TEXTILE FIRMS: NO VACCINATION, NO BONUSES, LOANS

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MANZINI – The quest to get more people to vaccinate for COVID-19 is serious and companies are now dangling a carrot to those who will take the jab.  

So serious is the quest to encourage people to vaccinate such that some textile firms have informed employees that they could lose benefits such as bonuses and loans if they do not vaccinate for COVID-19. This is much against some of the employees’ complaints that they feel compelled to vaccinate though they had been informed about the benefits of taking the jab. Some factories at Matsapha Industrial Site, Nhlangano and Siteki, in particular those in the textile sector, have implemented various strategies to encourage their workers to vaccinate and that some of these include  making certain company incentives available to only those who have taken the jab. It is worth noting that according to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), COVID-19 vaccines are effective at preventing infection, serious illness and death.

Infection

The CDC further highlighted that most people who contracted COVID-19 were unvaccinated. However, it stipulates that since vaccines were not 100 per cent effective at preventing infection, some people who were fully vaccinated could still contract the virus, and an infection of a fully vaccinated person was referred to as a breakthrough infection. It also highlighted that there were 60-80 per cent chances of not contracting the virus when vaccinated, while there were 90 per cent chances of not dying from COVID-19-related illnesses if you had taken the jab. The chances of not being hospitalised when a person who was vaccinated contracts the virus are 75-85 per cent, according to the CDC. Meanwhile, according to some Tex Ray employees, a notice from management was distributed on September 10, notifying them that they may lose benefits including all loans from the company and Christmas and end of year gifts, if they did not vaccinate. The employees further shared that the notice highlighted that the company would not employ new staff without a vaccination certificate.

The vaccine hesitancy among some of the employees was attributed to various factors. “This is hard because personally, I do not believe in vaccinating for COVID-19. I have my personal reasons for choosing not to vaccinate. But with these conditions, one is literally forced to take the jab, much against his or her will,” one employee said. Another employee said her trust in the vaccines was limited due to the increasing number of people who still contracted the virus and allegedly died. It should be noted that government had explained that people who may have died after taking the jab most probably had other underlying illnesses and may not have been killed by the jab per se. Another employee revealed that she felt that a vaccine was a huge intervention in her body.

“Everyone should make this decision for themselves, and just because you don’t get vaccinated, it doesn’t mean you are irresponsible or tired of life,” said another employee. She was informed by this reporter about the CDC report on people who had vaccinated and the benefits, including that they could decrease the risk of a severe infection. However, the employee was still reluctant to take it. “That may happen, but what benefit is there if I can still get infected? I have heard stories about people who die from COVID-19-related illnesses yet they have vaccinated. So I am not taking the vaccine. I might as well lose my job,” the employee said. Tex Ray Human Resources Manager Gcina Mamba confirmed the notice distributed to the employees. Mamba said the communication did not intend to force employees to vaccinate against their will. However, he said it was meant to encourage and motivate them to protect themselves as they were many. “We have a high volume of employees in the company. We are simply trying to inspire employees to protect themselves against the virus. At this rate, the only best way people could protect themselves from COVID-19 is to vaccinate,” said the HR.

Incentives

Mamba said the company was also planning to come up with certain incentives for staff members who had vaccinated. “The textile industry has a high number of staff members. If you don’t control how employees can protect themselves, the transmission may be too high,” he said. The HR said they had learnt this from other textile companies in the country. Meanwhile, Zimbabwe is the latest country to have adopted a similar way of encouraging employees to vaccinate, in particular those in the public sector. The country’s biggest workers union has taken the State and several firms to court for insisting that employees must be inoculated for COVID-19 before reporting for work, saying there is no law under the country’s statutes providing for compulsory vaccination.

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