FOUR CUSTOMS Officers last Friday November 19 hoisted placards opposite the KFC outlet in Kingstown in protest against the coming into force of SR& O #28- The Public Health (Public bodies Special Measures) Rules of 2021 which requires that all frontline and strategic workers in the government service and state agencies be vaccinated by that date.
“For months the government has been debating the Public Health Bill and is now part of the laws of St. Vincent and the Grenadines,” Alfonso Lyttle told SEARCHLIGHT.
Noting that despite public protests organised by the unions against the bill, “The Government is determined that it must pass this Health Bill,” the experienced Customs officer said: “We know that there is not a crisis in St. Vincent [and the Grenadines].
“We know also that this drug is an experimental drug, so it is still in the testing stages. How do you make an experimental drug mandatory for the citizens of this country”?
Lyttle, who has been employed with the Customs and Excise Department for 30 years, and for the past 18 months been working as a boarding officer at the Kingstown Ports has primary responsibility for clearance and docking vessels.
“All this time I have been following the basic protocols. I have not gotten anything. I have not brought anything into the office. Our office never had a spread, but yet the government is determined at this time that if we do not take this vaccine- and it does not even meet the criteria of a vaccine- If we do not take this experimental drug, then we have no part within this service,” the Customs officer lamented.
The SR& O Number 28 of 2021 provides a 10 day grace period for certain named categories of workers to get vaccinated or be deemed to be absent from work without leave. This period, which effectively amounts to two working weeks in the case of civil servants will run until early next month.
Persons may obtain an exemption on religious or approved medical grounds.
Lyttle said that as a result of the implementation of the rules, “we have no severance, no benefits to receive, no pension or anything. So how could this be right,”he further queried as other colleagues dressed in civilian clothes listened closely.
“It is laughable that this is a government that says they love their people.”
He said he had provided feedback on the draft bill when it was circulated for public response and the Public Service Union(PSU), their bargaining unit had done so as well, but had not been allowed the opportunity to have a discussion with the government authorities as agreed.
“… I wrote and I explained my situation and all that I have been experiencing, and I cannot see the reason for a mandatory drug, even if somebody comes down with this Covid as they speak, there is a 99-percent recovery.”
Lyttle reiterated that he did “not see a crisis in St. Vincent and if we were to check the numbers worldwide, still not a real crisis.” Asked why no pharmacist has so far come forward to dispute the efficacy of the vaccine Lyttle said:“I do believe that it is a whole matter of truth, we have not been given the truth. We know of the reports of ones who have died,” the others on the picket joining him in to declare,”all unvaccinated”.
The mainstream media, he claimed, have not been reporting the truth. “Today they are saying one thing and tomorrow another thing, so the information is so conflicting, we know they are telling lies. Recently they said that this would never be made mandatory, now they pushing mandatory. That is world-wide; this is not just here in St. Vincent, Lyttle remarked.”