The Public Service Union (PSU) has written to the Government asking that the cost for the PCR/Rapid tests be waived for public officers and teachers. That letter was sent about two weeks ago and according to PSU President, Dean Flowers a response has not yet been received from the Ministry of Public Service. Current law states that frontline workers who decide not to get vaccinated will have to present a negative PCR/Rapid test every two weeks. The test runs in the area of one hundred and fifty dollars. Flowers says that as recent as August 3, some public offices were sent home and marked absent for not adhering to the SI.
Dean Flowers, President, Public Service Union: “We have our pros who are for the vaccine and we have those who are against the vaccine and so the Public Service Union per se don’t have a position, we’re saying we respect your right to choose not to get the vaccine and we respect your right to choose to get the vaccine. We’re asking you now, a law has been legislated which requires you to do a test. As a union we believe having public officers paying for that test we believe that’s an injustice. We’re already in tough economic times and yes we can say well it’s your choice but in reality yes I have a choice to take the vaccine or to get swabbed but you shouldn’t put me under economic strain to have to find that $250 or whatever the amount for the test is every two weeks and that is what the union has written to the government on. We’ve written to the government and I believe we wrote to the government about two weeks ago, we have not received a response as yet from the Ministry of Public Service and what we’re asking for is consideration. For those members who don’t have a medical condition and who simply for whatever reason, maybe religion because we have some Rasta people who have reached out and said ‘Man I don’t believe I want the vaccine in my system what can the union do for me ?’ and we’ve been clear the law has been set. However we can request consideration, we have requested that consideration and public officers be afforded the test free of cost. Chief, I don’t think a public officer after a four swabs intends to go back there every two weeks so I’m saying at least give them the choice and don’t burden them economically. So I haven’t heard back from the Ministry of Public Service on that request for the cost of the test to be waived but we will continue to press for that. Understand some public officers were sent home yesterday or marked absent because that is what the law says that you would be marked absent and I want to say to those public officers at this point in time until the law is repealed you have to provide that test.”
And while the PSU says they are yet to receive a response from the Ministry of the Public Service. Minister Henry Charles Usher told Love News earlier today that the option of having the costs waived or discounted is not being considered. While it did sound final, the Minister did note that the dialogue with the union will continue.
Henry Charles Usher, Minister of Public Service, Constitutional Reform and Political Reform: “I think yesterday it was the grievance committee that met but last week I did have a monthly meeting which we intend to carry on going forward with the membership of the public service union and a variety of matters came up in that meeting and it’s very good that we keep the dialogue open and that if issues come up we are able to discuss and perhaps solve right there around the table.”