The following is a statement issued by the opposition New Democratic Party “concerning the government’s draconian COVID-19 mandate” “ On Friday November 19th 2021, the ULP Government’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate goes into effect. The police, teachers, certain public servants and employees of state entities will be required to take the COVID- 19 vaccine or lose their jobs.
The New Democratic Party believes that this draconian measure is the wrong approach to the problem of low level of COVID-19 vaccination in SVG. We call for an approach guided by compassion, consideration and practicality; not bullying and coercion.
Firing government workers (or threatening to fire them), many of whom have given numerous years of selfless service to our country, because they have not decided to be vaccinated is harsh and unfair. Throwing people off work and taking away their benefits can only create more hardship and pain in an already difficult situation.
Further, statements by government officials about replacing police officers, teachers, nurses, and other workers who have years of experience in their jobs with new recruits disrespects the service and skill of those affected employees. Instead, their experience and skill must be valued, and every effort made to retain those workers in the service. Anyone who is fired or resigns because of the government’s vaccine mandate must be rehired or otherwise compensated without loss of benefits.
Many of our people have received confusing or conflicting information and are genuinely fearful about vaccination. So, government action should be persuasive rather than punitive. It is only through such collaborative endeavors, communication, and trust that we can improve our vaccination levels. We call for more effective campaigns to provide information to allay fears and enable people make informed decisions.
The government must withdraw its highhanded measures and explore alternatives that involve greater consultation and engagement with the affected persons and their trade union leaders and the use of an aggressive information campaign about COVID-19.
Our goal must be to bring our people forward along the path to progress, not to divide them and drive them into greater economic hardship and unhappiness.”