On the 27th of March 2020, the country went into a national lockdown. This brought about an unprecedented situation where, most businesses, including establishments in the Hairdressing, Cosmetology, Beauty and Skincare Industry were forced to close their doors for business.
Most employers could not conduct business and as a result, were unable to pay salaries to their employees.
On the 1st of May 2020 and under alert level 4, a limited number of permitted businesses were allowed to resume their activities. On the 1st of June 2020 and under alert level 3, almost all of the remaining businesses were allowed to open their doors for business supplying products such as shampoo, etc.
Unfortunately, the Industry was not allowed to return to the workplace. This is still the situation.
The National Bargaining Council for the Hairdressing, Cosmetology, Beauty and Skincare Industry and the parties thereto, the Employers Organisation for Hairdressing, Cosmetology and Beauty (EOHCB) and UASA – The Union, have been hard at work by being constantly engaged in a consultative process with Government, through various channels including FEDUSA, BUSA and Business for South Africa (B4SA) since the latter part of alert level 5 in an attempt to ensure that Hairdressing, Beauty and related services resume as soon as possible.
Shortly prior to the implementation of alert level 4, the Council and the official parties thereto submitted an 87 page motivation and a sector based Risk Adjusted approach to both the Command Council and Minister of Trade and Industry appealing that the rendering of Hairdressing, Beauty and related services should resume.
Although the Council and the parties thereto held the opinion that the hardship suffered by persons in the Industry outweighed the hardship suffered by persons in other industries based on the demographics of the Industry, the Council and the parties realised that it would be extremely difficult if not outright impossible to persuade the Command Council to revisit its decision, given the fact that very few other industries were allowed to return to the workplace, under alert level 4.
As a result of the limited number of businesses being allowed to operate under alert level 4, Council and the parties concluded that even if it resorted to drastic measures such as legal action, there would be no chances of success.
This view was confirmed when the High Court in Cape Town on the 28th of May 2020 dismissed an application by an advocate, Carlo Viljoen that launched an application in his personal capacity under alert level 4, praying for an order that hairdressers return to the workplace.
On the 22nd of May 2020 Government indicated that alert level 3 would be implemented as from the 1st of June 2020. It was mentioned that most businesses would be allowed to reopen. Council and the official parties submitted further documentation on behalf of the formal sector in the form of an undertaking to Government, outlining the health protocols and guidelines that would be followed to ensure the safety of both persons rendering the personal care services and their customers, in an attempt to move Government into allowing Hairdressing, Beauty and related services to resume. This document was also accompanied by a video detailing the manner in which the protocols would be executed to enable Government to form a better understanding thereof.
Once again, and to the utter disappointment of the Council and the parties, Hairdressing, Beauty and related services were not allowed when the directives for alert level 3 were published on the 28th of May 2020. However, the regulations expressly provided for certain personal care services to be introduced, subject to the development and implementation of health protocols.
The Council and the parties realised that this was the opportunity to ensure the return of Hairdressing, Beauty and related service. The Council and the parties have been working relentlessly on presentation relating to the protocols to secure the return of personal care services on various forums and Ministerial Departments.
Great successes have been achieved in that indication was given by Government that it is in the final stages of finalising health protocols for the Industry that will be critical to the prevention of the spread of COVID-19.
Once these protocols have been finalised, Government will allow Hairdressing, Beauty and related services to resume. This was done by way of interactive and constructive processes without the necessity of becoming embroiled in any legal contest
Although the Industry has been severely affected by the consequences of the lockdown and not being able to operate for more than 2 months, everything possible was done to ensure that personal care services resume at the first possible opportunity thereby, as far as possible mitigating the economic hardship suffered.