“[…] It is also a false premise by employers to believe that vaccinated workers pose no risk to others, be they co-workers or the customers. The fact is that a vaccinated person, while less likely, can still get Covid.
“They can also transmit it to others, though again they are less likely to do so… From various statements being made, it seems that some employers are primarily concerned about another lockdown and their losing money…”
The following is a press statement from Movement for Social Justice (MSJ) political leader David Abdulah:
The Movement for Social Justice (MSJ) has noted with great concern reports in the various media that some employers are insisting and/or making it a condition for their return to work that workers must be vaccinated. The case of Mario’s where a ‘priority list’ of who will be allowed to return to work is but one such example.
The MSJ states its total disagreement with any such positions by employers who seek to discriminate against workers who are not vaccinated. It is to be noted that:
- Only a small percentage of people in the country—less than 15% have been fully vaccinated.
- The food and beverage sector is only today being invited to get a priority of receiving vaccines through the ‘public-private’ process utilised by supermarkets, manufacturers and others.
- Vaccines up to now were only available to the ‘over 60s’ and persons with co-morbidities. The average worker in the restaurant sector is probably aged 30 with no co-morbidities and so would not have been eligible for a vaccine.
Therefore to penalise workers in the restaurant sector who have not been vaccinated when they had no access to a vaccine, if not stupid, borders on being wicked.
It is also a false premise by employers to believe that vaccinated workers pose no risk to others, be they co-workers or the customers. The fact is that a vaccinated person, while less likely, can still get Covid. They can also transmit it to others, though again they are less likely to do so.
The main reason why it is necessary for workers who interface with the general public to be vaccinated is to protect the worker from being infected by some member of the public who has Covid.
Employers who encourage their employees to be vaccinated ought to be doing so out of concern for the well-being of their employees—as a vaccinated person is very unlikely to become seriously ill or die if they get Covid.
From various statements being made, it seems that some employers are primarily concerned about another lockdown and their losing money. Workers need to work. They need the income that they have lost. They have not yet received any salary relief grant. They do not have savings to survive on.
If some employers stop workers from returning to work because they are not vaccinated, they are in effect denying their workers an income, and these are the very workers whose labour enabled the firm to make money in the good days.
In addition, it must be stated that there is no law that makes it compulsory for a person to be vaccinated. To force a worker to be vaccinated is, in our view, also illegal.
The government’s slogan, ‘Vaccinate to Operate’, was clearly ill-advised. It has sent a message that some employers have interpreted as meaning that if you, the individual worker, are not vaccinated, then you cannot operate in our business.
Words and messages matter. The MSJ’s position has been stated publicly. We believe that vaccinations are extremely important. This is the best way for us to beat the pandemic. Vaccines have and will save people from becoming seriously ill or dying. We therefore encourage everyone to be vaccinated. We have walked the talk.
Senior members of the MSJ—chairperson Gregory Fernandez, deputy political leader Radhaka Gualbance, general secretary Ozzi Warwick and political leader David Abdulah—have all been vaccinated.
So, while we know that you have the right to choose not to be vaccinated, we encourage workers and others to be vaccinated. At the same time we condemn outright any employer who is bullying his or her workers to be vaccinated. That is wrong!