For the Public Service Union (PSU) the concern is not so much the personal choices of public officers and teachers but it is over the government’s directive to the un-vaccinated. President of the PSU, Dean Flowers told Love FM today that they will be speaking to the Government on this matter to ensure that the employees do not stand to bear the cost of the Covid-19 tests that will be required every two weeks.
Dean Flowers, President, PSU: “There are those who are upset and there are those who are concerned about it and of course there are those who may believe that the government is in its right to pass such an SI which essentially demands that public officers, front line workers, get the vaccine or do a PCR test every two weeks. Now I want to make it clear that where the PCR test is concerned it is our expectation that considering that this is now a condition of the government for public officers, front line workers primarily to report to work similar to the Commissioner of Police internal communication to his commanders it is our expectation that such a test will be made free of cost to public officers. We do not expect that the government would think for a moment that public officers are supposed to find money to do these tests every two weeks. It is the government’s responsibility to ensure that the working environment is free from hazards including infectious diseases such as COVID19. And so we acknowledge the move by the government to provide or to attempt to provide such an environment for all public officers but we have to also ensure that in their quest to do that that they government does not infringe on the rights of any public officer including the financial rights of those public officers and so we expect that if an when hat policy comes into effect that the government will ensure that the PCR test can be accessible freely by those public officers who feel strongly whether for religious beliefs, or personal fear or other reasons that they do not wish and will not get the vaccine.”
President Flowers went on to speak on SI-74 saying that another point of contention is the threat to declare workers absent without a Covid-19 test. He says this is one aspect that the union says they are not prepared to accept.
Dean Flowers, President, PSU: “Part of SI 74 that we have a problem with and which is something that we will be addressing is whereby it is stated that for front line workers who do not have that test every two weeks that they would be marked as absent. Advice to the union is that in essence that such a policy or such a law would be infringing on the rights or on the terms and conditions of service as it relates to the terms and conditions of service of public officers because if I were to show up to work to perform my duties and I’m marked absent but in effect I turned up to work but because I don’t have the test you’re going to mark me absent now that’s interfering with my terms and conditions of service because now that absent goes on my file and repeated absence or absenteeism continues now to impact on my terms and conditions of service to the extent whereby after a certain amount of absenteeism you may be able to commence a case for dismissal and that is also an area that I think has been an oversight or a lot of public officers aren’t paying attention to it but this can come back to haunt them where security of their employment is concerned, as well as in addition to where their compensation and their super annuity benefits is concerned. So we want to address that with the Ministry of Public Service to say to them that you cannot simply mark somebody as absent because they do not have PCR test when in fact they came to work to perform their duties. And so we have to look at ways how we either create an enabling environment for public officers to go back to the nearest health facility to get the test and then return to work and then we would perhaps have to have a conversation as well in terms of any possibly deduction that also may result of that for that period of time that they’re absent but we’re not in support f having any officer being marked as absent simply because they do not have that test.”