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– GPSU vows to resist forced vaccination on public servants
The Guyana Public Service Unions (GPSU) has flayed Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Anil Nandlall for attacking the Trade Unions in Guyana which have joined forces to challenge the Government’s COVID-19 protocols and vaccination requirements.
The legal proceeding initiated in the High Court by the Guyana Teachers Union (GTU), the Guyana Trades Union Congress (GTUC) and the Guyana Public Service Union (GPSU) is intended to nullify the government’s COVID-19 protocols, in particular its testing and vaccination requirements on the basis that they are unlawful.
The Attorney General, in response, condemned the court challenge. During his weekly programme – ‘Issues in the News’ – the Attorney General said “the impact of what this action seeks, the devastation that it can cause in our country, the mayhem and chaos that it can perpetuate, the level of death and the disaster that it can permeate, let all of that sink in and you understand where we are in Guyana…”
GPSU, in a statement on Friday, said that the erratic outburst by the Attorney General condemning the reliefs sought through the High Court against the high-handed abuse by the PPP/C regime comes as no surprise. “His obvious support of the Executive abuse and disregard of people’s constitutional rights is not surprising since we have repeatedly experienced his double standards and lack of criticism of his colleagues by challenging their conduct in acting in conflict with the laws which were brought to his attention on several occasions,” the union said.
It said the attempt by the Attorney General to distort and discredit the views expressed by the unions, is simply malicious. “For the record, the position is that the GPSU has publicly encouraged its membership and the general public to be vaccinated with vaccines approved by the World Health Organization. In addition, all persons have been encouraged to continue to take other preventative measures as outlined by the World Health Organization such as wearing of mask, sanitization and hand washing, social distancing.
The areas of conflict are that no one must be intimidated or forced to be vaccinated, test must be done at the Government’s expense, employees must not be evicted from their legitimate place of employment by members of the Guyana Police Force,” GPSU said.
It said Nandlall has chosen to ignore the Union’s call for the Government to desist from its arbitrary approach. GPSU said decisions regarding the administration of the vaccines ought to be inclusive and based on consultations with all stakeholder. It said together, stakeholders can work to restrain the spread of the virus and mitigate its impact on the population.
“His outburst is in support of that pigheaded posture which has so far resulted to date in significant increases in the rate of infection and deaths. We hope that good sense would prevail,” the Union said.
In a separate statement issued on Friday, the Public Service Union said it continues to monitor the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Guyanese.
“As a result, GPSU made numerous representations, statements and donations in order to improve welfare of our members in this deadly pandemic which already infected 25,951 countrywide,” it said.
The union iterated that it supports the COVID 19 vaccination drive, however, while it continues to encourage the use of WHO approved vaccines, it is against the imposition of the vaccine on Guyanese.
“Our Union firmly supports the individual’s right to give consent to medications including these novel COVID 19 vaccines. Further, the individual must not be coerced or placed under duress in order to pressure them into a position against their conscience. Our Union affirms an individual has sovereignty over this/here body and is ultimately responsible for what happens to it. In keeping with the Occupation Safety and Health Act, GPSU maintains the employer must cover the cost of any test required to maintain safety standards,” it stated.
GPSU said it notes with grave concern the degeneration of the Guyana Police Force into a “political force” which is currently being unlawfully directed to remove unvaccinated public servants from their place of work.
“The Union is also aggrieved that average citizens are barred from public services including health care if they fail to produce a COVID 19 vaccination card. The discrimination which results in lock out of unvaccinated workers is abominable. All these infarctions stem from unenlightened Gazette orders by the Minister of Health,” it said.
It noted that President Irfaan Ali’s recent contention that the vaccines are not mandatory are contradictory to the practical implementation of the Gazette Order.
“These Gazette orders, supported and justified by the President, resulted in the discriminatory lock out of unvaccinated health care workers across Guyana despite CDC reports confirming both fully vaccinated and unvaccinated persons can transmit the COVID 19 virus and its strains. The decreased nurse/patient ratio from this failed policy has only worsened patient care and limited services, particularly at the main referral hospital, Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation (GPHC). Patients have decried the non-issuing of medication, infrequency in change of dressing and long waiting time as a result of the staff shortage,” it reasoned.
As of September 3, the country recorded a total of 26,112 cases of the virus of which 636 persons have lost their lives while 33 persons were in the COVID-19 ICU. To date there are more than 2,000 active cases with 118 persons in institutional isolation and another 1,892 persons in home isolation.
Head of Medical Services at the Georgetown Public Hospital (GPHC), Dr. Mahendra Carpen has reportedly predicted a 300 percent increase in cases in the near future – a situation the union said is worrying.