Republic halts suspension for unvaxxed workers

Republic Bank File photo.
Republic Bank File photo.

Republic Bank has made another call to some 302 unvaccinated staff members to take the jab, as it also announced that it will be suspending taking action against workers in breach of its return-to-work policy.

In a circular to staff, the bank said: “Until further notice, though still maintaining our requirement for compliance with all our policy measures implemented to sustain a safe working environment, inclusive of the 3 Ws, effective immediately and until further notice, we are suspending taking any further disciplinary action against employees who may be in breach of the return-to-work policy.”

The bank said its vaccination levels among its employees stood at over 90 per cent, with 3,093 people getting vaccinated.

“Whilst we salute the vast majority of our employees for stepping forward and doing what is right for yourselves, family, community and country, we are hereby once again reaching out to our minority residual hesitant members of staff, imploring you to reconsider your position,” the bank added.

Banking, Insurance and General Workers’ Union (BIGWU) representative for the bank’s employees Jason Brown said the circular is evidence of the bank’s disregard of industrial relations, adding that since it took the decision to implement its policy on September 6 last year, it had not met with the union.

“The bank continues to do what it wants to do,” Brown told Newsday. “But we are happy that psychological pressure is now lifted for the time being.”

Brown said BIGWU believes it was the intention of the bank to frighten staff members into getting vaccinated. He added that all 302 unvaccinated staff members have received written warnings and were in line for suspension.

“From as early as October last year, the bank set out a plan to give letters – when it will give out first advice, second advice, then first and second warnings and it has gotten to the phase where it would seek to suspend staff,” Brown added.

“It may now be trying to save face and look benevolent, but really it has realised that the bank’s lack of industrial-relations acumen is now showing.”

From September 6, 2021 the bank mandated that all staff be vaccinated. If they were not, they were required to provide management with negative PCR tests every fortnight.

The bank also offered an ex-gratia payment of $750 to all staff who registered as being vaccinated up to August 31, 2021. Those who were vaccinated between September 1 and November 30 last year would be given a payment of $250.

In September last year, the union filed a petition against the bank calling for it to rescind its return-to-work policy.

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