Gov’t hoping ‘good sense will prevail’ as vac-cination mandate takes full effect today

Government says more people have been showing up to get jabbed since its new mandate was announced
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Reporting mechanism put in place to identify public sector staff still at home

By Latrishka Thomas

[email protected]

Will government offices function as per usual, or will a shortage in human resources run the public sector into the ground?

Today is the day that the fate of the sector will begin to reveal itself as the government’s mandatory vaccination policy for government workers comes into effect.

No unvaccinated staff will be paid beginning this month and if they enter the workplace and refuse to leave when asked, they risk paying a $500 fine or spending a month in prison.

This policy was announced earlier this month and since then vaccination centres have seen residents showing up in droves.

However, there are still some individuals who refuse to get the jab for varying reasons and some unions are seeking to challenge the mandate in the courts.

Minister of Information Melford Nicholas said, during yesterday’s post-Cabinet press briefing, that the government is standing its ground.

“The government has maintained its position and we hope that good sense will prevail. This is not a time for us to get bogged down in these particular issues but the government is actually making preparation should there be any shortage of teachers.

“We think that our position is just. Already the fruits are beginning to show and we want to ensure that everyone is aware that this is a cry now for a national ethos to envelop everyone.

“We are satisfied that we have given everyone a fair chance of coming good on this particular issue,” he stated.

And the government is making it clear that it means serious business by announcing that a reporting mechanism will be in place.

This week’s Cabinet notes stated that a system will be employed to “allow Directors and Permanent Secretaries to identify all those public servants who remain at home after September 30 2021”.

Those workers, once a part of the public sector, will be replaced, the government has said, and their temporary relief from work could become permanent, Prime Minister Gaston Browne previously warned.

Nicholas further said that “the government has no intention of pushing anyone into economic hardship” and hopes that “there will no need for anyone to be cut from the public sector because of intransient behaviour”.

“We think that everyone has been given a fair opportunity the past two weeks with pay to be able to make an assessment as to what is truly important at this particular point going forward,” the information minister opined.

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