With the reopening of several business sectors in Trinidad and Tobago, many employers have now engaged in forced vaccination of employees by mandating that they be vaccinated or be temporarily laid off.
President of the Public Services Association (PSA), Watson Duke, stated that by law, according to the constitution, employers and institutions that were forcing persons to be vaccinated were violating a person’s fundamental human right to freedom.
“I want to say to you NO! Absolutely no one can force you to take the Covid-19 vaccine. Any employer that forces you, or tells you that you have to take the Covid vaccine or you can’t work here, then you need to come to the PSA right away so we can represent you!” he said.
Duke, making reference to the constitution, listed five human rights that were being violated if a person was being forced or coerced to take the vaccine. These rights are as follows:
– Your right to life, liberty and security.
– Your right to equality of treatment.
– Your right to privacy. You are giving your information and there is no clear database policy by the Ministry of Health. Any employer or any institution that takes your data must have a database policy.
– People have a right to education in this country – It is the role of the government to make both basic education and tertiary education available and accessible to all. They cannot discriminate against students who refuse to be vaccinated.
– You also have the right to religion and if the vaccination is against your religion, one has to understand that.
Duke said that the choice to be, or not be vaccinated was solely up to a person and that choice had nothing to do with their employer.
“You cannot dismiss employees for not taking the vaccine!”
President of the Industrial Court, Deborah Thomas-Felix had previously stated that employers could not alter terms and conditions to make the Covid-19 vaccination mandatory for employees. She said that organizations could not demand that their workers take the vaccine.
Former Chairman of the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC), Lynette Seebaran-Suite stated that the only way persons could be forced to take a vaccine was if a law was passed in Parliament. She said that currently no such law exists and that it will be very unlikely that such a law will be passed.
“No law in Trinidad and Tobago enforces vaccination in the workplace,” said Seebaran-Suite.
Reporter: Melissa Goodman