More employers ordering employees to take COVID-19 vaccineFriday, September 10, 2021
BY BRITTNY HUTCHINSON
With more companies now issuing mandates that their employees become fully vaccinated against the novel coronavirus in order to keep their jobs, general secretary of the National Workers' Union (NWU) Granville Valentine yesterday said it is an infringement upon employees' right to work.
“The contract of employment does not speak to anything like this and our Government has not passed any law about COVID-19 vaccine and imposition that I am aware of. You should not [deny] someone the ability to work unless you can have good evidence that the contract they sign and agreed to is being breached or threatened,” he argued.
On Monday, CVM-TV Chief Executive Officer Shamena Khanto issued a letter to the staff saying that effective September 20 anyone who is unvaccinated will be required to produce a negative COVID-19 test at their expense each Monday to the Human Resource (HR) Department before the start of a shift or resumption of work.
“Anyone not producing the required test will be asked to leave the building and pay will be deducted for non-work – this applies to both contract for services and full-time employees,” Khan said in the letter.
“There will be no exceptions unless a certified medical report is provided to HR exempting the person due to medical conditions,” she added.
Commenting on the terms indicated in CVM's vaccine mandate, Valentine said, “You are restricting them by using methods of force legally to stop them from carrying out their work”.
“The worker would have turned up for work as expected by contract. If you lock me out then you should pay me. If you create the atmosphere to observe the COVID-19 protocols and I don't comply, that is a different scenario,” he added.
Meanwhile, Nationwide News Network CEO Cliff Hughes, in an internal memorandum to staff dated September 1, explained that consistent with the health guidelines and that of medical experts to minimise the impact and prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus and as an integral contribution to the general public's health and safety, the company will have a COVID-19 vaccination policy effective September 30.
“All prospective or newly hired employees/contract staff, and volunteers must be fully vaccinated as of their date of hire as a condition of new employment. This condition will apply, unless otherwise exempted from this policy by a certified medical practitioner,” Hughes said in the letter.
“All current employees, contract staff, and volunteers are encouraged to receive the COVID-19 vaccination by the effective date of this policy or at least the first jab, unless otherwise exempted by an approved authority such as a certified medical practitioner. The second jab will have to be taken within the stipulated timeline communicated by the Ministry of Health and Wellness,” he added.
Hughes also stressed that if any employee refuses to take the COVID-19 vaccine they must provide an antigen test every five days as proof of their COVID-19 negative status or be dismissed.
Nationwide explained yesterday that the policy was instituted after a number of staff members who were not vaccinated tested positive for COVID-19. The company pointed out that approximately half of its staff are vaccinated and none of those have tested positive.
Yesterday, Valentine said that the members of the legal fraternity have indicated support for his position and are willing to provide free representation to any worker who is affected by the matter.
“I am not against vaccination, but we believe that you should try to influence people with facts and evidence,” he said. “We are saying to workers that we are not giving you licence to do stupid things; COVID-19 is real cruel and will destroy us, but your rights ought to be protected and we must find a way to convince our people to work together as a country to pass through this thing alive and well.”
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