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Fri 3rd Sep 2021

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Vincentians – we must stand up for our human rights

As individuals, we have human rights. The main rule within international human rights is that vaccination, like any other medical intervention, must be based on the recipient’s free and informed consent.

We have recently been made aware that the ULP regime intends to amend the Public Health (Amendment) Bill to allow for certain categories of public sector employees to be vaccinated in order to work in “frontline” jobs.

The intention is to make rules under the Public Health Act to require certain categories of employees in the public sector, apparently including those in central government and state enterprises, to be vaccinated against covid-19 in order to work in certain specified “frontline” jobs.

Fellow Vincentians, we must stand up for our human rights. When it comes to having the covid-19 vaccination, it must be based on the recipient’s free and informed consent. People should not be forced or pressured in any way to get the covid-19 vaccine when they do not want to.

It was very inspiring to hear that the SVG Public Service Union, following an emergency General Meeting, 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, the nurses took the decision to withdraw their services during this same period to protest the amendments, which have implications for their fundamental rights and freedom.

The SVG Public Service Union says amendments to the Public Health Act will strip the rights of essential workers to choose to be vaccinated or not.

This is a very important time in the history of our country. We have a democracy and yet we are at a point where some of our rights are being taken away from us. We have rights under the SVG Constitution not to be discriminated against, yet this amendment to the Public Health Act seems to be doing just that.

If two people with equal qualifications and experience apply for the same frontline public service job, will the one who is vaccinated be chosen in favour of the person who is not vaccinated? When it comes to promotions or redundancies, will vaccinated people be favoured for promotion and keeping their job and unvaccinated people be discriminated against?

The main thing we have to remember here is that having the covid-19 vaccination does not stop you from catching covid-19 or transmitting it to other people. Therefore, it seems unreasonable for anyone to be forced to have a covid-19 vaccination. It would be unfair and unreasonable to fire public service workers for refusing to have the vaccination too.

The SVG Public Service Union’s intention of the withdrawal of service, in keeping with the provision of such action as outlined in the Essential Services Act, is an important step in helping to protect the human and constitutional rights of all Vincentians, not just public service workers.

SVG Green Party fully supports the intentions of the SVG Public Service Union. Government should respect Vincentians’ human and constitutional rights and freedoms and not infringe on Vincentians’ rights and freedoms.

Vincentians everywhere must protect their human rights.

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