Natuc rejects government plan to defer public-sector vaxx policy

Natuc general secretary Michael Annisette -
Natuc general secretary Michael Annisette -

National Trade Union Centre general secretary Michael Annisette has poured cold water on the Government’s decision to extend its vaccination policy deadline for public sector workers to February 17.

At a news conference on December 18, 2021, the Prime Minister had announced that all unvaccinated public servants were to be vaccinated by January 17, 2022, or be furloughed.

Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi had said subsequently there was no guarantee that furloughed workers would be reinstated.

The decision has been received with intense pushback from members of the trade union movement, who remain adamant that vaccination is a matter of choice.

At Saturday’s news briefing at the Diplomatic Centre, St Ann’s, Dr Rowley said the policy is being reviewed in the context of proposals the Government has received from some members of the trade-union sector, chambers of commerce, religious bodies and other groups.

He said the AG is also finalising legislation to give effect to the policy as it relates to categories of workers within the sector.

Annisette, who is also president-general of the Seamen and Waterfront Workers Trade Union, said he is not comforted by the one-month extension.

“Whether is a month, whether is a year, it is still the same story. It is the same principle that applies. It is the same threats. Is the same frustrations,” he told Sunday Newsday.

“You are still holding a gun to the public servants' heads, the statutory board workers, other state enterprises’ heads who are not vaccinated for legitimate reasons in light of the amount of adverse ill effects that people are now having as a consequence of taking that vaccine that you propose.”

Annisette insisted the Government should have consulted with the population before devising a policy and drafting legislation.

“If you doing legislation and you are doing a policy, you supposed to follow the policy first, then share it with the population for their comments. That is our humble view.”

Saying Natuc will continue to “plan our battle” for the rights of workers, Annisette rejected the Government’s position that if a public servant is unvaccinated, they cannot feed their children.

“That is the issue. You are doing this in light of empirical evidence that demonstrates something totally different to what you are saying.”

He said vaccines are not the only means to combat covid19.

“There are several doctors now who are now coming out, preaching and saying that there are alternative treatments to the vaccinations. If we are serious about science as we say, it is about researching everything that is available that may work or may not work in countries.”

Annisette believes the Chemistry, Food and Drug Division of the Ministry of Health has a critical role to play in this regard.

“What are they doing in terms of the analysis of things like that? Are we just to prattle what the international community says? We don’t have a mind of our own?”

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