NATUC: Close all safe zones

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday


NATUC general secretary Michael Annisette and NUGFW president James Lambert at a news conference at NUGFW Hall, Henry Street, Port of Spain on Tuesday. – SUREASH CHOLAI

The National Trade Union Centre (NATUC) is calling for the abolishment of all safe zones and quasi safe zones.

Its call forms part of a policy paper to be presented to the government in response to its vaccine mandate for public sector employees.

At a media conference in Port of Spain on Tuesday, general secretary Michael Annisette outlined five of the policy decisions.

He said he could not share the full policy with the media as it still had to go before the executive and central executive members before being sent to the government.

The title of the document is Securing Lives, Livelihood and Freedom of Choice: NATUC’s Policy Paper on Mandatory Vaccination for Workers.

“One: There must be an adoption of a rigorous protocol for voluntary informed consent prior to the vaccination to ensure that all prospective recipients are transparently apprised of the ingredients contained in the vaccine, the known and established risks associated with these products, e.g., cardiac injury in young males, injury to spinal cords, blood clots. The touted rarity of an injury does not preclude its disclosure to a recipient, and the right to accept or refuse these risks after careful consideration.”

The second is to call for the establishment of a vaccine-injury compensation fund to any person who experience’s loss of life, limbs, or livelihood as a consequence of the covid19 vaccination.

Annisette said the Health Ministry should assume liability for adverse effects of the vaccine. He said many people were sharing with them injuries they had received after taking the vaccine.

Annisette called for the establishment of a stringent protocol for the reporting of adverse events and injuries, supported by a functional vaccine adverse event reporting system which is publicly accessible and viewable online. He said these reports must be audited by an independent third party – a vaccine data and safety monitoring board.

“We call for the abolishment of all safe zones and quasi safe zones. After the safe zone initiative was launched on October 11, we saw an unprecedented surge in covid19 cases that led to an increase of over 400 per cent in deaths by the beginning of December.

“The safe zones accelerated the spread of covid19 by giving citizens a false sense of security after vaccination. That is our view. You could come out there, you could have a drink, you could now mix, but it is only for people who have been vaccinated.

“We are saying that vaccine status should not be the basis for preferential access or exclusion from places of commerce, government offices, sporting facilities, leisure or dining facilities.

“The safe zone and the quasi safe zone policies have been disastrous to public health, personal freedom and societal stability, and constitutes a policy of baseless and unscientific systematic segregation which must be abolished immediately.”

The final policy position is for a person’s covid19 vaccination status to be deemed sensitive and confidential. He said there was a difference between someone declaring they had covid19 and declaring their vaccination status.

“We are saying that the medical information should not be disclosed to employers or to any other members of the public, as this serves no other purpose than to facilitate coercion, victimisation, and the loss of your job.”

Annisette said the 11-page document contained recommendations from NATUC and from doctors and lawyers. He said owing to the changing nature of the covid19 virus and the vaccine, more policies may have to be written.

NATUC also wrote to the Chief Personnel Officer (CPO) and the Labour Minister asking for information regarding the vaccine and efficacy, as well as information related to the logistics and implementation of the proposed quasi safe zone.

When asked about his vaccination status, Annisette said he had to do further research on the vaccine.

“This is my body, this is my temple. I choose what goes into my body. I have to research it, I have to be satisfied because I see it as a drug and I am not yet satisfied. “Having seen what happened to young people, why am I taking the vaccine?

“I believe in my ancestral mothers and fathers and they will guide me.”

Annisette called on government to share its written policy on quasi safe zones so the union could respond. He said the union represents vaccinated and unvaccinated workers, and their right to choose.

National Union of General and Federated Workers (NUGFW) president James Lambert, who is vaccinated, called on public service workers to present themselves for work regardless of vaccination status.