VWSA dismisses allegations of neglecting Covid-19 measures

The VWSA plant in Uitenhage
The VWSA plant in Uitenhage
Image: SUPPLIED

Volkswagen SA management has dismissed allegations from production line workers that the company may have endangered workers’ lives by not adhering to the Covid-19 precautionary measures and regulations.

A group of workers protested on Friday outside the assembly plant saying that the company was putting workers’ lives at risk by recalling employees to work while they awaited their Covid-19 test results.

Issues pertaining to what they claim is non-payment of Ters (temporary employee relief scheme) allowances were also raised.

VWSA has had 248 Covid-19 cases, with 128 recovered, and at least one person has died.

On Monday, VWSA brushed off the allegations and said there might be misunderstandings as the company did random testing of staff.

Remuneration and benefits manager Sats Ranchod said the company understood that there were asymptomatic people and, as part of the risk mitigation strategy, the company had decided to frequently do random testing on the employees to minimise the spread of the virus.

We had never placed our workers’ lives in danger. If anyone tests positive [they] have an obligation to inform us, and then we can do the tracing process to identify the direct contacts

“We had never placed our workers’ lives in danger. If anyone tests positive [they] have an obligation to inform us, and then we can do the tracing process to identify the direct contacts,” he said.

“The only time we will test people and still allow them to go back to work is when we do the random testing, and if results come back positive, that’s when an employee may quarantine at home,” he said.

On the Ters  issue, Ranchod said they had applied for Ters and received the March/April payment and distributed it to the employees.

He said there were employees who were not needed at work and yet worked a few days in a month, and they also received 50% of their salaries and the company had applied for Ters benefits for May and was now awaiting the payout.  

Vehicle manufacture head Ashwin Harri said the company had been prepared and on May 4 had informed everyone about the virus and safety measures.

Harri said the company had had three shifts but had to downscale to two to accommodate the number of gatherings according to Covid-19 regulations.

VWSA doctor Fikiswa Ngonyama said health officials were operating 24 hours a day.

Ngonyama said they had seven consultation rooms, and isolation rooms should they have Covid-19 cases.

“We also do our own return-to-work assessment should one of our colleagues be infected with Covid-19. We have all the necessary precaution measures for Covid-19.”


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