Chester Hughes, the Deputy General Secretary of the Antigua & Barbuda Workers Union, is querying reports that the hotel sector has made a decision to terminate workers who are not vaccinated.
Although the claim was made today on another radio station, Hughes says the Union has received no such reports.
“As a matter of fact, the issue is up for discussion [in order] to come up with a position,” he tells REAL News. “I raised it just this morning with the Labour Commissioner and am awaiting a call-back from the Minister of Labour, Cutie Benjamin.”
According to industrial relations pundits, the Labour Code does not permit summary dismissal on such grounds. Further, they say, the Government has not taken any steps to make vaccination against the COVID-19 virus mandatory.
However, many workers – including public-sector employees – are uneasy. They recall what they consider “a threat” by Prime Minister Gaston Browne, who recently posted to his FaceBook page, “No jab, no job.”
But Leon Chaku Symister, an attorney-at-law, says there is no provision in the current public health law for dismissal of workers if they have not been inoculated.
And in order to make vaccination a condition of employment, Symister says, new legislation regarding future hiring would have to be enacted.
Meanwhile, the Government has also shared plans to create a “health passport” that will enable vaccination-takers to travel. That would be in keeping with another threat by PM Browne, who also warned the public: “No jab, no travel.”