Vaccinated NFM workers join unvaccinated staff in protest

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Seamen and Waterfront Workers Trade Union members, protest mandatory covid19 vaccination by the government near the National Flour Mills, Wrightson Road, Port of Spain on Friday. – Angelo Marcelle

Vaccinated National Flour Mills Ltd (NFM) workers joined their unvaccinated colleagues on Friday afternoon to protest mandatory vaccination for public servants.

Despite their vaccination status, the workers all shared the same view –”Our vaccination status, our business.”

At a press conference in December, the Prime Minister said unless public-service workers are medically exempted from taking the covid19 vaccine, only vaccinated workers would be allowed to work from January 17. Unvaccinated public servants have been told to stay at home, will not be paid and can risk losing their jobs.

Days before this legislation comes into effect, scores of workers stood in front of NFM’s main entrance at Wrightson Road, Port of Spain, with placards demanding that the government reconsider the new vaccine policy. Drivers sounded their horns in agreement as the workers paced the pavement.

Seamen and Waterfront Workers Trade Union members protest mandatory vaccination by the government in front of National Flour Mills, Wrightson Road, Port of Spain on Friday. – Angelo Marcelle

Speaking on behalf of the workers, Seamen and Waterfront Workers Trade Union secretary general Peter Morris said the policy will significantly affect operations of the company, as a large majority of workers are unvaccinated.

He said, “This is an abuse of authority with sheer intention to make things mandatory without considering persons’ vaccination status… NFM employees are saying their vaccination is their business. Before they do anything, we want proper consultation such as union, employers, NGOs and government in the formulation of any vaccination policy.”

Morris said the government failed to identify consider other factors, aside from medical reasons, which would exempt other groups from taking the vaccine.

“They must pay attention to the science. They have not demonstrated any medical studies to contradict or to support anything. Studies are coming out from almost everywhere looking at the effect of the vaccine on their people, but nothing from Trinidad.

“I don’t know if this strategy is a wait and move until they come up with a different approach, but we are not going to sit and see the fall of workers. We are going to be proactive. No government can threaten the livelihood of workers.”

The workers said they would explore all legal options to fight against the government’s vaccination policy.