THE EDITOR: Big businesses have come crawling out of the woodwork and are recommending to government that “all employers be given the ability, via the appropriate legislation, to declare their offices, factories or other work sites as quasi-safe zones and to therefore require all employees in that workplace to be vaccinated, with exemptions on valid medical grounds.”
This recommendation was made in a letter from the joint chambers to the Attorney General dated January 13. The joint chambers are AmchamTT, the Energy Chamber, the Manufacturers Association and the Chamber of Industry and Commerce. In other words, the organisations representing big business.
These "big sawatees" want legislative cover to force their workers to vaccinate, because as the law stands, any attempt to force vaccination outside of government’s safe zones will be in violation of laws pertaining to employment contracts and if workers and/or unions seek remedy in the Industrial Court, employers are certain to lose.
The letter goes on to say, “employers should have the flexibility to determine their own policies on how employees who refuse to abide by their vaccination policy are treated, including placing employees on no-paid leave.” Here we go again!
Employers cannot send workers on any paid leave which is at the initiative of the worker. What, in fact, they will do is lock out the workers.
Interestingly they suggest “medical exemptions for private-sector employees can be granted through any licensed medical practitioner approved by the employer.” They want to deny workers the right to choose their own doctors, a struggle they have been trying to win for decades and which can set a precedent if applied to sick leave.
So the battle lines are drawn.
The economic elites are putting pressure on the government. The trade unions are putting pressure on the government. How the government responds will depend on the respective strengths of the parties. The next few months will be critical.