PLANNING and Development Minister Camille Robinson-Regis is expected to meet today with stakeholders including trade unions and business groups, on a “possible workplace policy regarding Covid-19 vaccinations for Trinidad and Tobago”.
A news release yesterday from the Ministry of Planning advised that the meeting, to which Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh has been invited to participate, is scheduled for 3 p.m. today and “involves key representatives of the Federation of Independent Trade Unions and NGOs (FITUN), the Joint Trade Union Movement (JTUM) and the National Trade Union Centre (NATUC)”.
“The umbrella businesses organisations also confirmed are the Employers Consultative Association, the Trinidad and Tobago Chamber of Industry and Commerce, the Trinidad and Tobago Coalition of Service Industries, Trinidad and Tobago Group of Professional Associations, American Chamber of Commerce of T&T, the Trinidad and Tobago Manufacturers Association and the Energy Chamber,” the Ministry said.
According to the statement, Robinson-Regis said “the primary intention of this meeting is to engage representative stakeholder groups in dialogue, to discover collaborative methods of directly tackling vaccine hesitancy and finding common ground for public safety especially in Trinidad and Tobago’s workforce”.
Also invited to participate are Chief Personnel Officer, Dr Darryl Dindial, Minister of Trade and Industry Paula Gopee-Scoon and Minister of Labour, Stephen McClashie, the release said.
THE Banking, Insurance and General Workers’ Union (BIGWU) this month filed a petition against Republic Bank Ltd in the Industrial Court, over that company’s policy that unvaccinated workers produce a fortnightly polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test showing they are negative for Covid-19.
Robinson-Regis said although over one million vaccine doses have been administered in T&T, having a fully vaccinated workforce presents benefits for both employees and employers.
“Productivity is enhanced due to reduced sick days, costs for lost days are also reduced and employees in all industries are also able to engage in steadier modes of contribution to their jobs that improve livelihoods, improve health and increased morale due to limited fears of becoming extremely sick from contracting the Covid-19 virus as well as greater certainty of the future,” Robinson-Regis said.
She added: “At the macro scale, the socio-economic benefits of having a fully vaccinated workforce involve better physical as well as mental health and well-being, increased earning capacity and greater opportunities for vaccinated service providers to operate freely within the economy, increased return of vaccinated members to the workforce and being fully vaccinated also facilitates all employees to get back to the business of securely providing for their families”.
Robinson-Regis also said that “as is customary with this Government, a consultative approach is always the best means of building consensus”.
“The severity of this pandemic’s impacts on our health, education system, labour force and general way of life has made this stakeholder meeting with our union and business partners an urgent exercise on Trinidad and Tobago’s road to recovery,” the release stated.
The minister thanks all of the agencies for acting on their civic- mindedness and responding to the Government’s call to action.
The release said Robinson-Regis wanted to emphasise that “the Government’s priority remains the health and safety of all citizens and residents in Trinidad and Tobago and the cooperative establishment of a workplace policy cementing this goal, will be progressive for all parties”.