The Guyana Public Service Union today signaled its intention to take the Government to Court over the ongoing lockout of unvaccinated healthcare workers from their jobs at the public hospitals.
The public hospitals have issued a directive to staff members that they must either be vaccinated against COVID-19 or produce a negative COVID-19 test result at their own cost.
The introduction of the vaccination policy has led to scores of workers being locked out from their jobs and marked absent from work.
The Health Minister has already indicated that those marked absent will not be paid for those absent days.
Today, the Vice President of the GPSU, Dawn Gardner said the policy is a clear violation of labour laws.
“The Union should be taking legal actions, which will be filed shortly so the Court will deal with this matter because I think it is getting out of control”, the GPSU Vice President said.
Ms. Gardner noted that while the union is not against vaccines, it cannot be forced upon the workers with threats about salary cuts.
“The breach of the worker’s rights, the breach of all the various laws and all the necessary laws that protect the workers right. All the breaches we are going to argue. There is no law that states that this vaccine should be mandatory”, Ms. Gardener explained.
She said the Government is still refusing to engage the union while strongarming the workers.
“We can’t look at one side of the law. While the employer is to ensure that the workplace is safe and conducive for the workers, the law also states that the employer is responsible for consulting with the representatives of the workers. So, we have to take both into consideration. While the employer would ensure that the workplace is safe and conducive, the employers will also consult with the workers or meet and negotiate however we want to twist or turn it with the workers representative and we come up with a common position and move forward”.
With the cost for a single PCR test representing almost 20% of the salaries of many of the healthcare workers, they have stated that it is impossible for them to pay for regular tests out of their pockets if they continue to refuse to take the vaccine.
The Labour Ministry has been silent on the issue of who should pay for the tests although the law appears very clear on the issue.