The Guyana Trades Union Congress, the Guyana Public Service Union and the Guyana Teachers Union have joined forces in a Court action against the government over its vaccination policy which has resulted in hundreds of workers who are unvaccinated against COVID-19 being locked out of their jobs.
The Court action names Attorney General Anil Nandlall as the respondent on behalf of the Guyana Government.
The three unions are seeking a number of orders, declarations and injunctions.
Through Attorneys Darren Wade and Dane Elliott-Hamilton, the unions want the Court to declare that the health emergency made by the President of Guyana and published in the official gazette was made in excess of the President’s jurisdiction under Section 21 of the Public Health Ordinance.
The Presidential declaration was first made under former President David Granger and continues under the current President, Irfaan Ali.
The applicants contend that although there is a Central Board of Health meeting, the President and the Minister of Health have not relied on that Board for advice and recommendations as is required by the Constitution.
The Attorneys contend that the declaration made by the President amounts to an unconstitutional delegation of the President’s powers and infringes on the Constitution. Additionally, Attorney Wade contends that there was an improper delegation of powers
He wants the Court to declare that the Emergency Mesures later issued to be invalid.
The unions through their Attorneys want the Court to quash the gazetted orders since they contend they were unconstitutional in the first place, pointing out that the Central Board of Health has no authority to delegate its powers to a third party.
The Attorneys want the Court to grant an interim injunction prohibiting the State of Guyana, its agents, and authorized entities from implementing Section 17 of the Covid-19 Emergency Measures until the determination of the application to the Court.
Section 17 refers to the requirement that a person must be vaccinated against COVID-19 to be allowed access to a government ministry or agency or they should make an appointment.
Government Ministries and agencies have been using that requirement to get staffers vaccinated. Unvaccinated staffers have been locked out from their jobs at a number of government offices.
Citizens who are unvaccinated have also found themselves being denied access to government offices to transact business and government services.
The application wants the Court to grant an order prohibiting the implementation of the vaccination requirement.
Additionally, the Court is being asked to order that the state bears the cost of the COVID-19 testing regimen for employees of the state who are required to take the COVID-19 tests as a condition of their employment with the state.
The action by the three unions comes as the Government continues its push to get more persons vaccinated and as various government departments and agencies demand that staff members be vaccinated or start producing regular negative COVID-19 test results at their own cost.
The Government has come under criticism from the unions for its position.