Some hotel workers now unemployed after refusing to take vaccine

Executive chairman of the Antigua and Barbuda Hotels and Tourism Association (ABHTA), Vernon Jeffers
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ABHTA’s Executive Chairman says at least 98 percent of workers are vaccinated

Workers in the hospitality sector who have not yet taken the Covid-19 jab have been told that they have forfeited their jobs.

They were informed about the latest decision via letter from the Antigua and Barbuda Hotels and Tourism Association (ABHTA) to its hotel members who in turn informed the affected employees.

Those employees had been given a one-month grace period in which to comply with the vaccination mandate for the sector, but that time-frame has apparently now ended and has resulted in the unvaccinated workers losing their jobs. 

Despite the drastic move, Executive Chairman of the ABHTA Vernon Jeffers told this newsroom that he does not expect there would be too great a disruption in the hotels since over 90 percent of hospitality workers have been vaccinated and only a handful of them were not.

“I doubt that too many hotels would in fact have to share that letter because from feedback we have been getting almost 98 to 100 [percent] of the persons who are working have been vaccinated. It’s really just a few, a handful of employees at this time who that letter would impact,” Jeffers said.

The unvaccinated employees were informed that payment for any outstanding vacation due will be processed in the usual manner.

He mentioned the ABHTA has been very patient about the vaccination policy and have given their members ample time and other resources in order to ensure that they made informed decisions.

“We know that some of the employees did have concerns, we continued to have dialogue with them and have professionals and doctors and counsellors coming in and speaking with them and addressing those concerns. We then saw more and more persons getting vaccinated,” Jeffers added.

In the past, the ABHTA had received ‘tongue lashing’ from several unions for the brazen approach on the matter of vaccinated staff, but Jeffers had previously responded to the verbal attacks saying that there was no legal framework that prevented them from implementing such a policy.

The question of the legality of mandated vaccines has sparked much debate in recent months. In fact, just last month, two learned local attorneys publicly claimed the government’s ‘get jabbed or get tested’ policy for its 14,000 workers was justifiable by law.

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