Numsa recently adopted an HIV/AIDS policy. Already negotiations have started in some companies. If you don’t have a policy in your company in your company, read this policy and contact your local organiser to assist you to negotiate one in your company.
The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa acknowledges the seriousness of the HIV/AIDS pandemic. The HIV/AIDS pandemic has claimed many lives and will continue to do so if we do not seek ways to minimise the social, economic and developmental consequences to Numsa and its members.
HIV/AIDS is a serious disease surrounded by ignorance, prejudice, discrimination and stigma. In the workplace unfair discrimination against people living with HIV/AIDS has been perpetuated through practices such as pre-employment HIV testing, dismissals for being HIV/AIDS positive, the denial of employer benefits, existing employment practices and policies.
HIV/AIDS knows no social, gender, age or racial boundaries, however, it impacts severely in an environment of poverty. Women are particularly more vulnerable to infection in cultures and economic circumstances where they have little control over their lives.
Numsa thus commits itself to providing leadership to implement HIV/AIDS workplace policy and programme in all its workplaces.
SCOPE OF APPLICATION
This policy applies to employees of Numsa and its organised workplaces or any workplace that Numsa intends organising.
Numsa reaffirms that the HIV/AIDS workplace policy is based on:
The promotion of equality and non-discrimination between individuals affected with HIV, and other comparable health/medical conditions.
The creation of a supportive environment to ensure that HIV-infected employees are able to continue working under normal conditions in their current employment for as long as they are medically fit to do so.
The protection of human rights and dignity of people living with HIV or AIDS and to prevent and control the spread of HIV/AIDS.
Consultation, inclusivity and encouraging full participation of all stakeholders are key principles, for developing the HIV/AIDS policy and programme.
This HIV/AIDS policy is a guide for employees and Numsa on how to manage HIV/AIDS within the workplace.
No employee shall be required to undergo HIV testing without the authorisation of the Labour Court .
Information about an employee’s HIV status will not be a reason to exclude him/her from employment or any employment policy or practice.
Confidentiality about an employee’s HIV status will be kept at all times; if confidentiality is breached the existing grievance procedure will be available to resolve the disputes. If the existing grievance procedure is not conducive to such disputes the current procedure should be reviewed to make it accessible and include principles of confidentiality and privacy.
B. LEGAL FRAMEWORK
The policy should be read in conjunction with, but not limited to:
The Constitution of South Africa No 108 of 1996
Employment Equity Act No 55 of 1998
Labour Relations Act No 66 of 1995
Occupational Health and Safety Act No 85 of 1993
Mine Health and Safety Act No 29 of 1996
Compensation of Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act No 130 of 1993
Basic Conditions of Employment Act No 75 of 1997
Medical Schemes Act No 131 of 1998
Promotion of Equality and Prevention of Unfair Discrimination Act No 4 of 2000
The implementation of this policy is the responsibility of the Numsa leadership with the assistance of all staff, workers and shop stewards in all workplaces where Numsa has its membership or any workplace that Numsa intends organising.
Numsa shall appoint a National HIV/AIDS Working Group and Co-ordinator to:
Communicate the policy to all staff and members
Ensure that the policy is negotiated, implemented, monitored and evaluated at all workplaces
Advise management regarding the policy, programme implementation and report progress to relevant Numsa structures
Numsa regions and locals will liaise with local AIDS service organisations and form meaningful partnerships on campaigns and service delivery at community level.
Ensure that HIV/AIDS committees are established regionally, locally and at factory level.
D. MANAGEMENT OF INFECTED EMPLOYEES
HIV/AIDS shall be treated in the same way as other disabling or terminal conditions and the objectives and principles of this policy will apply in all instances.
E. PROGRAMME COMPONENTS:
The HIV/AIDS programme of Numsa shall provide all employees and staff access to:
Information, education and communication activities including small media in respect of the Numsa Workplace Policy and HIV/AIDS.
Negotiate paid time off for peer educators and trainers in all workplaces.
Barrier methods, including male and female condoms.
Health services for appropriate management of STDs/STIs, TB and other opportunistic infections including prophylactic treatment. If health services are not offered at individual workplaces, that an appropriate referral system and the advertising of such services within the communities where workers live be made available.
Prevention of mother-to-child-transmission site.
Voluntary counselling and testing.
Personal protective equipment for staff members who may potentially be exposed to blood or blood products and access to first aid kits and universal precautions in all workplaces.
Support for both infected and affected staff/employees and their families.
Numsa together with employers’ organisations and individual employers shall conduct regular impact analyses, in order to understand the evolving epidemic and how it will impact on the future of Numsa and its membership and how it relates to production requirements, operations and functions of the union and businesses within the sectors.
G. EMPLOYEE BENEFITS
HIV infected staff is entitled to the same employee benefits and will not be excluded from promotion and training opportunities within the sectors.
All employers within the sector shall allocated an adequate budget to implement every aspect of HIV/AIDS programme. Numsa shall allocate such budget for its employees.
I. MONITORING AND EVALUATION
The HIV/AIDS policy and programme shall be reviewed on a regular basis to ensure that the objectives and principles in the policy remain relevant to new research and approaches in respect of HIV/AIDS.
The purpose of the monitoring and evaluation will also be to ascertain if the programmes have desired effects; to change behaviour, attitude and perceptions regarding HIV/AIDS.