JOINT Trade Union Movement (JTUM) head Ancel Roget has condemned the police for firing tear gas and arresting people during the "Push Back" protest march on Sunday at the Queen's Park Savannah in Port of Spain.
Speaking during a prayer vigil he led Sunday evening outside the Prime Minister's official residence in St Ann's, Roget, who is also the president general of the Oilfield Workers Trade Union (OWTU), slammed the police for what he described as a "forceful and aggressive attack" on crowds gathered at the Savannah to protest Government's public-sector vaccine policy.
Police used tear gas to disperse the large crowd, and about 12 people, including social activist Umar Abdullah, were arrested for breaching covid19 public health regulations and leading an unlawful public march.
Roget told reporters the police action was an abuse of power.
"I outright condemn the actions of the police for discharging tear gas on law-abiding citizens. This is a democracy and we are entitled to express our views and I want to advise the police not to allow yourself to be the tool of this government.
“If there is any take-away from this is that we are prepared to go for the long haul and stand against injustice.”
He reiterated his position on the vaccinations being voluntary before promising to go the distance (if need be) to stop the implementation of the vaccination policy for government workers.
"We are not against the vaccine, but we stand equally 'no' to any attempt by Government to move against anybody who stands by their right not to take the vaccine...their body their choice," Roget said.
Though the Prime Minister has given a one-month extension to public servants to get vaccinated before the public-sector quasi-safe zone initiative kicks in, Roget claimed there was an instruction to prevent unvaccinated government workers from showing up for work on Monday.
As president of JTUM, he promised to closely monitor operations at all government agencies in the coming days to ensure no workers face any action, based on their right not to be vaccinated.
He told reporters the prayer vigil, attended by a little over 30 people, was to remember those who died of covid19. He said it is the first of many to come.
“The vigil is also for those how would have suffered the side effects of the vaccination. We also stand in solidarity with those who are prepared to set everything aside and stand and defend the right to choose.”