The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) has, amongst other things, cancelled World TB Day, in compliance with the president’s order to practise social distancing.
In a statement on Wednesday, 18 March 2020, the National Union of Mineworkers noted the rapid spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), which has now been classified as a global pandemic by the World Health Organisation (WHO). In response to the president’s orders, which include practising social distancing by working from home, closing schools until after Easter, and being in quarantine, the trade union noted several matters. Amongst these matters was concern about the impact COVID-19 will have on people living with HIV and Tuberculosis (TB), especially those who are not taking treatment for the conditions.
Along with advising training workshops to educate employees on the transmission of the virus to minimise its spread, NUM has also cancelled all its mass gatherings, including World TB Day, which was to be commemorated on Tuesday, 24 March 2020. Considering that some employees are still expected to report for work, NUM called for compensation for workers who have contracted the disease in the line of duty, and further called on employers to allow special leave arrangements, including medical leave due to symptoms or quarantine.
Furthermore, the union appealed to employers to be empathetic during this time. This includes employers allowing employees to work from home and not punishing them for reporting sick because of flu. The trade union promised to continue engagement with various stakeholders to ensure the health and safety of its members in the workplace and within communities.