by Linda Straker
- Covid-19 future must address disparity in living conditions
- GTUC accepts that vaccine is one of the tools against this pandemic
Andre Lewis, President of the Grenada Trades Union Council (GTUC) is of the belief that the island’s fight against Covid-19 has been hampered by Government’s approach to the labour movement.
“If you look at the members of the different committees that are spearheading the fight against Covid-19, it is all party hacks, political supporters, no independent people,” Lewis said while addressing workers during the annual May Day celebration held last Saturday.
Lewis said tourism and agriculture are under threat because of the Covid-19 virus and the Government is late in its approach to involving labour in the fight against the virus which has infected and killed millions worldwide.
In a speech covering wide-ranging social justice topics, Lewis who serves as the Labour Movement representative in the Upper House of Parliament is also of the view that the Covid-19 future must address the disparity in the living conditions of our people. “We must commit to a future where we all have access to basic need services such health or a decent and healthy meal, old age and old age security,” he said.
“The Grenada Trades Union Council accepts that the vaccine is one of the tools to help fight against this pandemic. The GTUC calls for the ongoing engagement and education to help with workers taking the vaccine,” he said while explaining the Council’s position on vaccination.
“The GTUC holds the position that employers cannot mandate existing workers to take the vaccine, this will amount to a unilateral change in the terms and conditions of employment,” he said while pointing out that Governments’ failure to comply with the section of the collective agreement which requires the payment of 4% in salary increase for public officers, could result in private sector employers adopting similar approaches.
“This is a signed collective agreement and the Government has breached it, so, therefore, private sector employers are feeling they can breach their contract of employment of workers by mandating them to take the vaccine,” he said to workers who were mainly listening via social media broadcasting platform plus a limited number at the National Stadium.
The theme for May Day celebrations 2021 was “Solidarity and education to protect workers’ rights and benefits in the midst of Covid.” The celebration had 25 workers from each union marching from the Tempe Playing to the National Stadium where union leaders and the Labour Minister addressed the small crowd.
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