THE Prime Minister announced that public sector workers have until February 17 to ensure they are vaccinated against covid19 and Government remains committed to bringing legislation for covid19 safe zones in the public sector. Dr Rowley also questioned the logic used by the Joint Trade Union Movement (JTUM) to accuse Government of trying to impose mandatory covid19 vaccination on public sector.
He made these comments at a news conference at the Diplomatic Centre, St Ann's on Saturday. At a news conference at the same venue on December 18, 2021, Rowley said public sector workers who choose not to get vaccinated against covid19, for non-medical reasons, will be furloughed.
While the original deadline for public sector workers to be vaccinated was January 17 (Monday), Rowley announced the new deadline will be one month from that date. He also provided data of a 35 -87 per cent vaccination rate amongst public sector workers in several government ministries such as the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) where 71 per cent of its workers are fully vaccinated.
He rejected a claim by JTUM that there is is a significantly low risk of death or hospitalisation from covid19. "Three thousand and counting, and 20 dead people, or 30 some days, is not significantly low risk."
Reiterating that people had a choice to be vaccinated against covid19 and there are consequences to those choice, Rowley said less than half the population is vaccinated against covid19 and Government is now responding to get the remainder of the population vaccinated.
While he accepted people's right of choice, Rowley was concerned about the message JTUM was sending to the population.
"It is saying let us leave it to choice and who live, live and who dead, dead. That is what is being said."
He opined that some people have become insensitive to covid19 deaths in TT because funerals cannot be held in the normal way. Rowley felt sad the labour movement was taking positions on covid19 that were similar to those of the Opposition UNC.
He also cited recommendations from the joint chambers of commerce about operations of covid19 sector safe zones, such as employers being given the flexibility to adapt covid19 rules specific to their circumstances.
Rowley declined to comment on a Boxing Day event held on the MV Ocean Pelican. He reminded reporters the matter was being investigated by the police. He did not comment about allegations made against Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi with respect to that matter. Rowley also said he pays close attention to the conduct of every Cabinet minister. Should any of them act in a manner that was inimical to the public interest, and it was proven to be so, Rowley said the question of whether he would act does not arise.