The Saint Lucia Trade Union Federation (TUF) is advocating an end to all discriminatory practices against workers and citizens, noting that “a new form of divisiveness of vaccinated versus unvaccinated is emerging within the society”.
In a release Thursday, the umbrella trade union group said it believes that this is counterproductive in effectively fighting COVID-19 and its effects.
“Discrimination in whatever form must not be practiced at the workplace,” the TUF release asserted, while declaring that there must be respect for the bodily autonomy of each individual person.
The TUF has also advocated for employers pay for all testing they deem necessary for workers’ employment.
The complete TUF release appears below:
The TUF recognizes that:
- The world is facing a global health crisis caused by the coronavirus disease (Covid–19) which is causing human suffering and death.
- What started as a health crisis has transformed into a human, economic and social crisis.
- The Covid-19 pandemic presents an unprecedented challenge to public health and the world of work and the economic and social disruptions caused by it are devastating.
- Covid-19 affects all segments of the population and it is particularly detrimental to members of those social groups that are most vulnerable.
- The crisis seriously impacts employment and labour issues, in particular workers’ earnings, job security and their health and safety at the workplace.
- In particular, Doctors, Nurses, Fire Officers, Paramedics and other health care workers face several challenges personally and professionally which include being overworked and experiencing psychological burden managing patients and situations impacted by the pandemic.
The TUF acknowledges that:
- Adhering to workplace safety and health practices; ensuring decent work and protecting labour rights at all workplaces are critical to addressing the crisis.
- Immediate, purposeful and culturally relevant action to save lives and livelihoods must be considered and taken.
- Only with social partners working together in a spirit of mutual trust will the health, social and economic impacts of the pandemic be overcome.
- Proper adherence to the health protocols as suggested by the experts will contribute to a more effective reduction in transmission of the virus.
- High vaccination rates are necessary to reduce suffering, death and the pressures on the already burdened health care system and the negative impact on the economy.
The TUF observes that:
- A high level of misinformation is negatively impacting the fight against the virus.
- Indiscipline among too large a segment of the population is contributing to the transmission of the virus.
- A new form of divisiveness of vaccinated versus unvaccinated is emerging within the society and the TUF believes that this is counterproductive to effectively fighting the virus and its effects.
The TUF’s position on Covid-19 and vaccination is based on the following principles:
- Decisions on managing the crisis have to be informed by expert advice and various stakeholders should be engaged in social dialogue to arrive at positions on managing the situation.
- There must be respect for the bodily autonomy of each individual person.
- In keeping with the International Labour Organization’s (ILO’s) standards, workers’ rights, fairness and democracy must be practiced at every workplace.
- Discrimination in whatever form MUST NOT be practiced at the workplace.
- No employer has the right to unilaterally vary the employment contract of employees.
- High vaccination rates should be attained through encouragement and not by employer mandates.
- Effective access to vaccines should be ensured for those who wish to have it.
- The voices of workers and their representatives should be respected at the workplace and in national consultations/dialogue.
Based on the above principles, the TUF advocates for:
- Government, employers, workers and workers’ organizations to work together in a spirit of shared understanding and trust to design and implement measures to save lives and livelihoods.
- Education to be the means through which citizens are encouraged to accept vaccination and to overcome vaccine hesitancy.
- Health Authorities to more robustly engage workers/professionals in high-risks places in consultations aimed at encouraging them to accept vaccination as a necessary requirement.
- Workers voice and that of their Unions to be fully respected and that they be involved in a collaborative approach to dealing with workplace health and safety issues as well as any workplace adjustments resulting from the pandemic.
- An end to all discriminatory practices against unvaccinated workers/citizens.
- Employers to pay for all testing that they deem necessary for workers employment. – Respect of terms of employment contract of all workers.
The TUF remains
- Committed to mobilizing expertise and experience that exist within its affiliates to support a meaningful national response to the crisis.
- Determined to support any group of workers or individual worker who has to face discrimination or disrespect at the work place.
- Ready to participate in meaningful social dialogue on managing the crisis and other matters of national and workplace importance.
- Determined to support our health care professional as they seek to help the nation and the TUF encourages individuals to do the same by doing what is necessary including considering taking the vaccine.
- Committed to participating in educational initiatives (and will also be devising its own) to inform workers of their rights and responsibilities during this crisis period and to encourage them to do what is necessary to mitigate against the spread of the coronavirus virus.