At least one umbrella trade union body has hinted that they would not support any attempt by employers to create a division between existing and new workers in the workplace.
Speaking to PSA media yesterday, National Trade Union Centre’s General Secretary, Michael Annisette said: “There is no mandatory vaccination law, and I am saying that the employer does not have the unfettered right to implement terms and conditions that can appear to be placing workers whether they are existing workers or they are coming in to work at a disadvantage.” He likened the future of that situation to the divide and rule practice of slavery.
On Friday, at the opening of the new law term, the head of the Industrial Court, Deborah Thomas-Felix reiterated a message that she had said in February advising employers that implementing mandatory vaccination policies for existing workers was a violation of their terms and conditions. She however positioned that the mandate could be enforced on new employees but must go through the process of dialogue between employer and employee or their recognised trade union representative through the collective bargaining process.
Annisette also applauded President Thomas-Felix for disparaging the more frequent practice of asking employees to produce a PCR test every two weeks. He said we have been telling employers this and said that it happens more so in workplaces that do not have union representation. He also pointed out that it is like putting an “industrial relations gun” to have employees, many of whom are working for minimum wage to produce a PCR test that costs at least 900 dollars. He also said, “Even the workers considered to be middle-class workers because some have not been given wage increases as far back as 2007 they still cannot afford it.”
During the Industrial Court President’s speech, she also highlighted that this country’s Occupational Safety and Health Act(OSHA) bears out that safety and protective measures in the workplace shall not involve any expenditure to workers. The costs should therefore be carried by the employer and not the employee. These practices are also reflected in the International Labour Organisation(ILO) of which this country is signatory to.
Annisette acknowledged that the head of the Industrial Court was speaking on the law and insisted the law must be followed by everyone.