Ellies fires workers over Covid–19 vaccines

Ellies has dismissed eight employees for refusing to comply with the company’s Covid–19 vaccine mandate.
The staff were placed on “no work, no pay” from 1 July, ahead of their incapacity hearings conducted later in the month.
Following the incapacity hearings, the workers were dismissed, receiving no salaries for July.
Ellies implemented its mandatory vaccination policy in February 2022.
At the time, South Africa was working out how to end its state of disaster while keeping some lockdown restrictions in place.
“Ellies carefully considered all options before implementing a vaccine mandate,” chief commercial officer Johan Klein told MyBroadband.
“Employees were given notice of our intention to implement a vaccine mandate seven months prior to implementation.”
Klein said that, during this period, Ellies instituted a company-wide awareness and education programme that included counselling, presentations by medical professionals, and consultation with recognised union and employee committees.
“Ellies complied with the National Disaster Act and the Occupational Health and Safety Act in developing a Comprehensive and Individual Risk Assessment and Workplace Plan.”
A termination letter circulated on social media showed that Ellies conducted virtual incapacity hearings on 21 July, and dismissed staff members on 26 July.
Ellies notice of dismissal for failing to comply with Covid-19 vaccine mandate (Click to enlarge)
According to the letter, the charges against the employees were as follows:
Incapacity due to your inability to perform your duties as contracted with Ellies Electronics. This inability to perform your duties flow from your refusal to be Vaccinated for COVID–19 as set out in the Mandatory Vaccination Policy of Ellies Electronics and by implication refusing to participate in the creation of a safe working environment.
Your actions negatively impacted the performance of Ellies and renders you incapacitated for a prolonged period.
Klein confirmed that Ellies dismissed three people on 26 July.
It has terminated the contracts of eight employees since 20 May 2022 for refusing to vaccinate.
An anonymous source at the company told MyBroadband that several staff members applied for exemptions.
However, these were in vain as they were denied without proper explanation.
Klein said that eleven employees applied for exemption. He confirmed none were successful.
“No sufficient evidence or medical evidence was provided to grant exemption,” he said.
The terminations have led to much speculation among Ellies staff.
MyBroadband’s source said that Ellies halted employee benefits immediately after the incapacity hearings, even though the chair only gave his recommendations a week later.
Klein refuted this, saying benefits were only stopped after contracts were terminated, in line with the terms and conditions of employment.
He also disputed claims that Ellies’ vaccine mandate was connected to Standard Bank increasing the company’s loan facilities.
“It was not linked in any way,” Klein said.
Standard Bank implemented a mandatory Covid–19 vaccine policy in December 2021.
BusinessTech reported that the bank dropped its vaccine policy in July, around the same time as a CCMA ruling calling such mandates unconstitutional.
Legal experts say that the CCMA commissioner overstepped in their ruling, as only the High Court can declare something unconstitutional.
Regardless, Daily Maverick reported that Standard Bank reversed course following union pressure and has committed to rehiring dismissed employees.
The bank reportedly fired forty workers for refusing vaccination and committed to rehiring them after financial sector trade union Sasbo threatened legal action.
Asked if Ellies is concerned about union and legal backlash, Klein was evasive.
“Ellies followed a fair and transparent process, giving employees ample time to engage and understand the Mandatory Vaccination Policy and its consequences,” stated Klein.
“The Labour Relations Act compels employers to provide safe workplaces, and the requirement to vaccinate was in the interest of the health and safety of all employees, customers and the community.”

Now read: South Africa ends daily Covid–19 case updates

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