Workers of the Sanitation Department expressed much joy at being able to return to their jobs months after being laid off as a result of their refusal to take a COVID-19 vaccine.
This group of workers, said to have been incorrectly labelled as front-line workers, returned to their jobs this month after three months on the breadline.
However, one of these worker is asking that the teachers, nurses and other front-line workers who were sent home also be allowed to return to their jobs.
The official position of the authorities which surfaced this week is that sanitation workers were never in the category of “front-line workers” included in vaccine mandate legislation stipulating that front-line workers were obligated to take a COVID-19 vaccine or relinquish their jobs.
SEARCHLIGHT spoke with two of these affected employees who have been at home since the end of November, 2021.
Sylvia Williams-John has had her hands full with marriage festivities and helping her husband with their mobile baking business, but she revealed that it was hard on her “for see I done work so much years and just throw it down the drain.”
During the time she was home everyone asked her, “you done work with the Government for five years and you leave it so?”to which she has responded, “Well wuh me go do?”
People told her that she was being “stupid” but she said she told them that when she dies she will leave money behind.
“…So me ain going and fight down nobody. Me nah go fight down the Prime Minister. What he say goes. You understand? That’s what I used to say.”
Williams-John attested to the goodness of God and said she puts him first.
She started as a part time employee with the Sanitation in 1995 before being placed on the permanent staff in 2017. And, Williams-John disclosed that she loves her work.
“When I been home I been just…just thinking about the work, my job. Because my job helped me a lot” the mother disclosed.
She has been an employee with the Public Health Department since her children were infants.
Williams-John recalled, “…After the Corona ting come in I went to my job on the 22nd of November, so they told me I cannot work because I don’t take the vaccine. So I went home back…”
She went to the head of her department and, “I asked him how I will get my money for the five years I dey permanent for the health department working? He tell me he cannot do nothing to that. I say so I work five years and just throw that down the drain just like that? He say he don’t know.”
The next thing the employee told her superior was that she was not taking the COVID-19 vaccine. She told him, “I don’t believe we supposed to take no vaccine. We dey on the street all the time through Corona and nobody never study us so me ain tekking any.”
This led to him apparently telling her that’s fine, but she would have to stay at home and she told him that is fine.
She has been home since then until “…Them call me the Tuesday the 1st of March and ask me if I could come back to the job and I tell them yeah, I will come back. So I work from since last week Tuesday to today Wednesday.”
She said further that a “Mr Toney” told her that there was a letter waiting for her and she could return to her job.
“I tell them of course I need my job but I ha to take that vaccine? He said no, no vaccine, but just put on your mask and your gloves and then you could come in to your job,” Williams-John recounted.
She was told to call another person to receive instructions on her return and when she checked with this other person, Williams-John made sure to ask whether or not she would have to be vaccinated.
“…He say whenever you want to come back to work you could come back. So I say if I could work this evening I coming,” and so said, so done.
No one told her that she would be compensated for her time at home, although this is the official position.
When she heard of this, the sanitation worker seemed very happy, saying, “Yeah Thank God for Jesus. You know I don’t mek nothing trouble me okay. But all I say I ain want the vaccine. I don’t want it, and I mean I ain want it.”
In parting words Williams-John said she would like to tell Prime Minister, Dr Ralph Gonsalves, “he been have to do what he do but Sylvia Williams ain tek it. Okay? He been ha to do wha he have to do but me ain been want it.”
“But those who…the policemen and nurse, I would like them to get back their job too…Becah everyone ha children to support… just like how he call us, he could call them too back to their job,” added Williams-John who extended God’s blessings to everyone.