Trade unions, including JTUM, NATUC and FITUN, are standing in solidarity with the Banking Insurance and General Workers’ Union as they condemn a move to impose a policy on staff which requires them to produce a negative PCR test every fortnight.
In a statement on Monday, the Trade Union Federations said BIGWU has been reasonable in workplace discussions with employers.
“The union has consistently upheld the interest of workers and public health. Instead of reciprocating in good faith, the management of Republic Bank Ltd has imposed an absurd and counterproductive return to work /vaccination policy,” the unions said in the release.
They added that the new “policy” had not yet been discussed with and agreed upon by unions. Which, according to the unions, meant that it was not a policy as yet, merely a proposal.
“Republic Bank Ltd management has thrown good faith discussion out the window. They have chosen to implement onerous conditions on their employees – the unilateral imposition of the costly PCR test on the unvaccinated, the unethical use of 'monetary bribes' to achieve their agenda of herd immunity and the threats of disciplinary action and other prejudicial treatment against the unvaccinated”
The unions added in the release that Republic Bank does not know whether any of their employees are pregnant or trying to become pregnant and vaccination was only recently approved for pregnant women.
“Republic Bank management does not know if any their employees are immune-compromised or allergic to vaccine components. The management of Republic Bank is clearly insensitive and uncaring and therefore display a high degree of recklessness towards its employees with underlying comorbidities.”
The unions said vaccines are a safe and reliable method to prevent severe reactions to covid19 infections, and should be used along with other protective measures.
“Employers are not in a position to ethically mandate vaccination among workers. Education and moral suasion will achieve a safer workplace than any amount of bullying,” the unions said.
In a notice issued on August 18, Republic Bank said from Monday unvaccinated staff would be required to produce a negative PCR test on a fortnightly basis. The bank will cover 50 per cent of the cost of each PCR test.
In a separate release BIGWU said the matter would be heard at the Ministry of Labour on Wednesday. If it is unresolved the matter will move to the Industrial Court.
“The heavy-handed tactics of Republic Bank has been receiving not only the attention but the full support of the Joint Trade Union Movement,” BIGWU said.
BIGWU said in its release that attempts to “weaken the resolve” of workers who have not taken the vaccine may have pushed some workers into taking the jab, but not all.
It said workers at midday on Monday took part in a silent protest, each holding a message saying “Pro-vaccination, pro-choice, no discrimination, no victimisation of (sic) the unvaccinated.”
BIGWU said workers held the protest with full observance of state of emergency and public health guidelines. Other workers made their protests with red masks and ribbons and others chose to display the same message on their cars.