The St. Kitts-Nevis Trades and Labour Union learns with shock and dismay of the practice, being carried out by a growing number of employers in the Federation, of mandating workers to take the vaccine that protects against the COVID-19 virus against their will. The insistence is being back up by threats of termination, transfer or suspension.

There are other instances that have been made known to the Union, where a growing number of employers is making COVID-19 inoculation a prerequisite for employment or promotion within the organisation. As such, job seekers are being denied positions for which they qualify, owing to new conditions that contravene the constitutional rights of these workers.

The St. Kitts-Nevis Trades and Labour Union joins with all social partners in endorsing the benefits that the COVID-19 vaccination offers to all workers and through them to the health of our society and economy. The Union encourages workers to be part of the national move toward maximum immunisation. This is an ideal we can achieve if each worker takes the vaccine.

At the same time, the Union desires that all workers are treated with respect at all times. We consider the reluctance of workers to take the vaccine, at this time, to be an indication of unawareness and wariness on the part of the worker. We contend that where worker hesitation has been identified, it needs to be addressed with protocols of adequate information and not with authoritative insistence.

As an advocate of workers, the St. Kitts-Nevis Trades and Labour Union proposes that the adherence to all COVID protocols in the workplace, along with the use of the requisite personal protective equipment by workers, can keep workers safe while effective ongoing education exercises is offered to our workers. Education offers greater awareness and calms the genuine fears of workers who are confronted with the important decision of taking a relatively unknown and new COVID vaccine. We ask for openness, consultation, empathy.

The Union desires that all workers are treated with dignity in this time of a public health crisis and at all times. We call for an immediate end to the inhumane practice of threatening workers’ rights and livelihoods. We invite workers, in all sectors, to report all incidences of workplace threats. The Union is committed to robustly represent your cause for decency in the workplace.