While appealing to the nurses, doctors, and public servants to rethink what they are doing regarding the planned strike action for 7-10 September, Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves said that the course of action wouldn’t change the government’s stance on vaccination.
“I read, I haven’t seen the notice yet, that the public service union has issued a notification under the Essential Services Act. A 14 day notice that they will carry out industrial action; they’ll withdraw their services, strike, from the 7-10 September, inclusive.
Now, oaky. What is that intended to achieve? That the government is going to change its position. That you’re going to use industrial muscle to defeat the right reason, and what is in the public interest? That’s what you intend to do? I don’t think that people in the country will consider that to be reasonable”.
Gonsalves said we all have choices to make on all sorts of fundamental things. And this choice is a choice in favour of the vaccine.
“The medical science says yes. It is an excellent tool in the toolbox to control Covid, to bring us back to some state of normalcy”.
Gonsalves said he was told that many ordinary people are already up in arms against the public service union leadership on this issue on social media. To that, the Prime Minister had this to say.
“I don’t want you to abuse them verbally. I just want you to persuade them. Advise them what they are doing is not right. For themselves and the country”.
St Vincent and the Grenadines Public Service Union says following an emergency General Meeting which was held on August 2, 2021, the membership of the Public Service Union voted to take industrial action during the period September 7 – 10, 2021, in response to the government’s amendment of the Public Health Act.
Furthermore, at a meeting held with nurses on Wednesday, August 18, 2021, the nurses decided to withdraw their services during this same period to protest the amendments, which have implications for their fundamental rights and freedom.
The PSU says amendments to the Public Health Act will strip essential workers’ rights, in the first instance, to choose to be vaccinated or not.
The union, in a release, stated that the government has refused to or failed to listen to workers concerning their human and constitutional rights and freedoms.
In light of this, the PSU has notified the Governor-General of the intention of the withdrawal of service, in keeping with the provision of such action as outlined in the Essential Services Act.
Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves in July said there would be no mandatory vaccination in St Vincent and the Grenadines.
“This thing that we are amending the Public Health Act to make vaccination of everybody mandatory, that is not so.”
“We are amending the Public Health Act because there are certain categories we’ll have to make regulations for as the circumstances admit for either mandatory testing after the required requisite notice periods and the like and or testing.”
A draft of the Public Health (Public Bodies Special Measures) Rules 2021 has been published for public consultation and comments.
The deadline for written submissions is Wednesday, September 8, 2021, at 4:00 p.m.