Lawsuits Loom Against Public Universities

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A national organisation that was recently established to represent students and staff in public universities is preparing to take the legal route against a number of public universities that are continuing to implement mandatory vaccine policies. 

 


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Universities Alliance South Africa (Uasa) is against the vaccine mandatory policies that most universities have adopted late last year and implemented at the beginning of the 2022 academic year.

Universities experienced student protests earlier this year, as students took action against forced vaccinations.

Several student formations and unions have been vocal since 2021 about mandatory vaccination policies, stating that they encourage students to be vaccinated but view mandatory policies as coercing students into vaccination.

According to the policy, students are allowed to enter and utilise university facilities only after they have shown proof of being vaccinated or proof of being exempted from the vaccinations.

In an interview, CEO of Higher Health, Professor Ramneek Ahluwalia said:

We also know that the only answer at this moment to defeat this virus is through vaccinations.

Ahluwalia added that vaccinated people are far less prone to severity.

The UK has reported a new variant of the virus and the World Health Organisation has also confirmed that the XE variant, a sub-variant of the Omicron variant has been discovered in the UK.

It has been reported that there is no sectoral policy on mandatory vaccination.

According to the higher education act, the universities in South Africa have the right as per the Occupational Health and Safety Act as an employer to decide their own mandate.

Uasa’s attorney Stephen May said they don't want to enter into a piecemeal approach, but depending on what the different responses are, the organisation would have to take that as it comes.

This then means that these institutions have the right to decide whether they would like to impose vaccination as mandatory or not.

May encouraged employees to also try and enter into a negotiation consultation with their employer, should nothing materialise, then they have the option to make use of the Labour Relations Act.

Higher Education said it respects the self-governance of institutions of higher learning, as they have the decision to do what is right according to their system in order to protect their population.

 


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