8 May 220 by Vincent Cruywagen
Cape Town merchandisers say they have been barred by a branch manager from returning to work before they have been retested for the virus.
In April, about 20 employees of Checkers at the Bayside Mall in Tableview tested positive for the coronavirus. The store was temporarily closed, but was later forced to shut down operations for a longer period after two employees died.
Merchandisers who spoke to Maverick Citizen said they had been prohibited from returning to work on Monday 4 May 2020 when a manager at the store demanded they all be retested. The workers were also ordered to provide documentation about their coronavirus status.
Many of the workers in the store come from the struggling and impoverished communities of Dunoon and Atlantis and cannot afford to pay around R1,400 for a private test. They said they were afraid of losing their jobs because of this.DISPLAY ADVERTS
Maverick Citizen spoke to two of the workers who have asked that their identities are not disclosed. Their names are known to Maverick Citizen.
Nolene, 36, returned to work on 4 May after 14-days of self-quarantine. When she arrived at Bayside Checkers, she said, a branch manager prevented her from entering the premises.
“He wants a letter to state we are negative which is impossible because according to government rules you are tested once. We were treated like dogs when we arrived at work. He told us to stand one side and we must until when they get answers,” said Nolene.
She said while the manager had told workers to retest, some had already established from nurses at a local hospital that they could not be retested.
“I was at the Wesfleur Day Hospital, Atlantis, on Wednesday and was told they don’t do retesting. I got a letter stating that I was quarantined, only needed to wear a mask and gloves and that I’m fit for work,” Nolene said.
The 10 merchandisers are all in murky water with a no-work-no-pay rule threatening their livelihoods.
Nolene claimed that the workers had become infected at Checkers Bayside where the manager had failed to tell staff that a staff member had the virus.DISPLAY ADVERTS
“We were only told on 14 April that somebody tested positive. I was tested on 16 April and on 19 April I got my result showing I’m positive. I was placed two weeks in quarantine at the Lagoon Hotel and came back 30 April.”
She said if management required retesting of staff, it should be at the expense of Checkers.
A merchandiser from Atlantis, Daniel, said he felt betrayed.
“On Monday I was told at Bayside Checkers that I think nothing of their families because I came to work while I was tested positive. I was also told the fact I spent 14 days in isolation doesn’t mean that I’m negative,” he said.
Daniel said that the workers had all explained to the manager that they could not be retested.
“If we can’t be retested then we are going to get unpaid leave. I’m the breadwinner and won’t be able at the end of this month to put food on the table for my family,” Daniel said.
Angus, one of three women from Dunoon who tested positive, said:DISPLAY ADVERTS
“I stayed home for my quarantine and after finishing my quarantine I went to work on Monday. The store manager told us if we were tested positive we must go back to the doctor to be retested.”
Angus said she had been told by a doctor that she could not be retested without “symptoms”.
“A lady from the Department Health phoned and told me if I have medical aid I can go for retesting or else go to a private doctor. We don’t have that kind of money to go for retesting.”
Shoprite Media did not respond to allegations that the store manager had refused the merchandisers access to the shop.
A spokesperson told Maverick Citizen that the Shoprite Group was committed to implementing government guidelines on the pandemic.
“The Department of Employment and Labour has with the regulations published on April 29 (Covid-19 Occupational Health and Safety Measures in Workplaces Covid-19 (C19 OHS), 2020) outlined that an employer may only allow a worker to return to work if the worker has undergone a medical evaluation confirming that the worker has been tested negative.”
Source: Maverick Citizen at https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2020-05-08-shoprite-checkers-employees-who-tested-positive-and-spent-two-weeks-in-quarantine-are-turned-away-from-work/