A local labour expert is of the opinion that Namibian companies are prioritising the collective interests of their staff by incentivising vaccination, compared to opponents of vaccination who are instead advocating for their individual rights.
Referring specifically to the National Petroleum Corporation of Namibia (Namcor) and diamond company Namdeb, Herbert Jauch says in this regard it seems that the collective interest of company staff members outweighs individual rights to not get the jab.
“Employers are legally compelled to do all they can to ensure a safe and healthy working environment. It is against this background that Namcor’s decision has to be seen. In the absence of compulsory vaccination, employers may appeal to their staff to get vaccinated to protect themselves and their colleagues, or alternatively to provide a negative Covid-19 PCR test to ensure that staff at work are fairly well-protected. Vaccination is free, and staff members choosing to get vaccinated will thus not incur costs,” he said in response to questions from New Era.
According to Jauch, the question of vaccination pits the rights of individuals against the collective rights and interests of society.
“People refusing to get vaccinated not only increase the risk for themselves, but also for the people around them,” he stated.
He continued that views on vaccination are deeply divided and sometimes take on “spiritual undertones”, which make it very difficult to reach an agreement.
Said Jauch: “However, dealing with a pandemic requires the use of scientific evidence, which so far clearly indicates that vaccination protects to some extend against infection. But more importantly, it protects significantly against severe illness, hospitalisation and death. The recent figures shared by the Minister of Health support this”.
“This is an option open to all, but those who refuse to get vaccinated have to pay for the tests, as indicated by Namcor. In terms of fairness, it seems that Namcor has given preference to the collective interest of health and safety at work which outweighs individual interests regarding vaccination. The only exemption that will have to be provided is the case of people who may not get vaccinated for medical reasons,” the labour expert added.
Namdeb, on the other hand, has adopted a different approach from Namcor to achieve the same aim by providing a financial incentive for staff to get vaccinated. This, Jauch said, also aims to increase vaccination rates, and he pondered which approach would be more successful.
“One can compare these strategies to the proverbial “carrot and stick”, as Namdeb provides the carrot (N$2000) while Namcor resorted to the stick (PCR tests at own costs),” he continued.
Also commenting earlier this week on the vaccination incentives, chairperson of the Namibia Employers Federation (NEF) Terence Makari said the federation continues to encourage its members to consult with their employees in terms of mandatory vaccinations as there is no vaccine mandate, thus making vaccines voluntary. “The NEF supports its members on providing any incentives to their employees aimed at encouraging voluntary vaccinations,” noted Makari. - email@example.com