The Movement for Social Justice (MSJ) is condemning employers who are "bullying" and/or victimising their workers to get vaccinated as a condition for their return to work.
Political Leader of the MSJ David Abdulah said Government’s “vaccinate to operate” position was clearly ill-advised and has sent the wrong message to employers that if workers are not vaccinated they cannot operate in their businesses.
Pointing out there is no existing law for compulsory vaccination, Abdulah said it is therefore illegal to force a worker to be vaccinated as certain sectors of the economy are set to reopen next Monday.
While supporting vaccination as the best possible way to fight the pandemic Abdulah said the majority of those in the food sector who may be returning to work on July 19, may not have been eligible for vaccination or even had access to the vaccines.
With the scarcity of vaccines before the arrival of 800,000 doses of Sinopharm on Tuesday, less than 15 per cent of citizens have been fully vaccinated to date.
He reminded that the food and beverage sector is only now being invited to receive vaccines through public-private process.
“Vaccines up to now were only available to the over-60 age group and persons with co-morbidities. The average worker in the restaurant sector is probably aged 30 with no co-morbidities and so would not have been eligible for a vaccine.
“Therefore to penalise workers in the restaurant sector who have not been vaccinated when they had no access to a vaccine, if not stupid, borders on being wicked.”
Abdulah said it is a false premise by employers to believe that vaccinated workers pose no risk to co-workers or customers as a vaccinated person can still contract the virus and transmit it to others.
“The main reason why it is necessary for workers who interface with the general public to be vaccinated is to protect the worker from being infected by some member of the public who has covid.
“Employers who encourage their employees to be vaccinated ought to be doing so out of concern for the well-being of their employees, as a vaccinated person is very unlikely to become seriously ill or die if they get covid.
“From various statements being made, it seems that some employers are primarily concerned about another lockdown and their losing money.
“Workers need to work. They need the income that they have lost. They have not yet received any salary relief grant. They do not have savings to survive on.
“If some employers stop workers from returning to work because they are not vaccinated, they are in effect denying their workers an income, and these are the very workers whose labour enabled the firm to make money in the good days.