- Dis-Chem denied NUPSAW’s allegations it did not follow health and safety protocols after Johannesburg employees tested positive.
- NUPSAW said it suspected merchandise from the warehouse being distributed was contaminated – a claim Dis-Chem also denied.
- “We have adhered to all requirements throughout the lockdown period across the entire company,” Dis-Chem said.
Dis-Chem has denied allegations put forward by the National Union of Public Service and Allied Workers (NUPSAW) that it did not follow health and safety protocols after staff members tested positive at its warehouse in Midrand, Johannesburg.
In a statement on Wednesday, NUPSAW alleged that nine employees at the warehouse tested positive, adding it had picketed outside the warehouse on Wednesday.
“Despite the demand for a temporary shutdown of the warehouse and proper deep cleaning, NUPSAW received the unfortunate news that three more stores have reported positive cases of coronavirus at Krugersdorp, Rosebank and Norwood,” the union’s spokesperson Kagiso Mokoe said.
Mokoe added the union would hold another picket outside these stores on Thursday, suspecting that the Dis-Chem warehouse was “distributing infected merchandises to their stores and customers”.
READ | Union vows to shut down Dis-Chem warehouse over Covid-19 cases
However, Dis-Chem strongly denied the allegations, accusing NUPSAW of being “on a publicity drive”.
“All high touch areas and surfaces were thoroughly cleaned and disinfected and all reporting and incident logging protocols were closely followed.
“The affected section of the distribution centre was immediately closed for professional deep cleaning and fogging and Dis-Chem has confirmed that there is no risk whatsoever of contamination of merchandise,” it said in a statement.
Caryn Eliasov-Barker, HR director at Dis-Chem, added: “We deny all allegations, and we have adhered to all requirements throughout the lockdown period across the entire company and have been commended by the NICD for the way in which we have handled staff and customer safety”.
All of our staff who have come into contact with staff who tested positive are sent for testing and placed in isolation while they wait for test result.s
— Dis-Chem (@Dischem) June 17, 2020
The pharmacy chain explained that once a positive diagnosis was received from one of its employees at the warehouse, the employee went into self-isolation and testing on staff was conducted.
“Testing of indirect contact possibilities continue, and to date, 54 tests have been conducted, contrary to NUPSAW’s allegations, with eight employees testing positive.
“The results of 23 tests are still outstanding and they, together with the staff that have tested positive are in isolation and continue to earn their full remuneration.”
ALSO READ | Dis-Chem branch in Joburg defends decision to stay open after 2 workers test positive for Covid-19
It added that one employee in its head office also tested positive and is in quarantine at home.
“We take the safety and health of our staff extremely seriously and would never deviate from ensuring the working environment is safe,” Eliasov-Barker said.
She added: “We want to emphasise that while workers are at work they are in as safe a place as possible.”
NUPSAW held a picket outside the warehouse on Friday in which health and safety inspectors from the Gauteng health department, as well as inspectors from the Department of Employment and Labour produced a verbal report to the union.
“We were not satisfied with the verbal report given to us by inspectors, therefore, [we] asked them to put it in writing.
“Furthermore, parties agreed to conduct the same loco inspection very soon, this time by senior inspectors from both departments (Environmental Health and Department of Employment and Labour) in the presence of all parties concerned,” Makoe said.
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