SA HR news roundup: UCT staff and students to vaccinate, Seifsa confirms end of strike

‘Landmark’ agreement marks end of metals and engineering strike.

Covid-19 vaccination standpoints continue to dominate headlines, as UCT approves a proposal for proof of vaccination from staff and students, and mining giant Exxaro partners with Dis-Chem to extend vaccination reach.

Meanwhile, Seifsa announced the end of a crippling metals and engineering sector strike and government highlighted the need to prioritise digital skills.

Exxaro-Dis-Chem vaccine partnership
Exxaro Resources has partnered with Dis-Chem to vaccinate its employees, contractors and their next of kin at the mining company’s head office.

The partnership began in August and, as at 15 October, more than 570 people had received the vaccination through the partnership.
According to Minerals Council South Africa, 41 percent of mining employees are partially or fully vaccinated.

Metals and engineering strike ends
The Steel and Engineering Industries Federation of Southern Africa (Seifsa) has confirmed the end of the strike that has affected the metal and engineering sector in the past three weeks.

According to a “landmark” agreement, wages for the three-year period from 1 July 2021 to 30 June 2024, will be adjusted, on average, by 5.49 percent, with a general labourer receiving six percent and artisans five percent.

The Consolidated Employers Organisation (CEO), which represents certain small, medium-sized and micro-enterprises operating in the metals and engineering sector, said the agreement between Seifsa and unions did not extend to all employers in the sector, according to media reports.

Digital skills a must
Department of Trade, Industry and Competition export promotion director Luke Govender said digital skills need to be bolstered, during an export market opportunities and compliance webinar.

Many companies have shifted their businesses to e-commerce platforms as a result of the pandemic and Govender said women entrepreneurs have struggled to develop their online and digital skills.

This was especially the case for women when it came to developing skills for marketing and selling their products and or services on the Internet, or even selling their products on e-commerce websites.

“[The] importance of digital skills has been ever increasing, but the pandemic has brought urgency to the fore. The digital skills that were considered to be additional skills have now become one of the necessary skills to possess in the export ecosystem to stay competitive in the global market,” he said.

UCT will require proof of vaccination
The University of Cape Town (UCT) Council has approved, in principle, a proposal requiring that all staff and students provide acceptable proof of having been vaccinated against Covid-19.

The proposal, which received support from 83 percent of respondents, will take effect from January 1, 2022 and will ask staff to vaccinate as a condition of being able to perform their duties and students to vaccinate as a condition of registration.

UCT staff and students were engaged on the matter through a survey which received support for mandatory vaccination.