[ARANGUEZ, 15 June 2021] — The issue of mandatory vaccination in respect of the COVID-19 virus has been an ongoing topic of discussion around the world, especially pertaining to the world of work. As a responsible and committed social partner, the Employers Consultative Association of Trinidad and Tobago (ECA) has been listening, taking into consideration the views currently being expressed by highly credible commentators on the subject locally and across the region, while conducting its own research.
Notwithstanding the strong arguments for mandatory vaccination, having considered the views expressed and based on our own findings to date, the ECA’s position on the subject is that making vaccination mandatory in our jurisdiction must be well-researched and must ensure that inputs from stakeholders at all levels of society – Government, business, labour and civil society are taken on board before any policy decision is declared or legislation enacted.
Our research suggests that while many countries have contemplated such action, it is being approached with a great deal of caution at this time, since a valid case for legitimate exemptions also exists. We need to also keep top of mind, that the legal basis for mandatory vaccination would largely be dependent on the workings of the national legislative framework.
As a member if the Industrial Relations Advisory Committee (IRAC), the ECA will be participating in discussions on the issue and exploring the legal and human rights elements of mandatory vaccination, as it must do, understanding that both employers and employees have rights and responsibilities under our constitution, international human rights conventions and other covenants.
The ECA is fully aware of the pandemic’s devastating impact on business, citizens’ health, psychological and economic well-being, and in this regard, we fully support a national vaccination programme to realise the full reopening of the economy and restoration of jobs and livelihoods for all employee groups, live classroom learning for all students, and safety and health of all citizens.
Just to reiterate, the message from the ECA at this time would be to introduce campaigns designed to educate and strongly encourage individual citizens about the personal and societal benefits of vaccination, even at the level of the workplace. These benefits principally include the protection and preservation of their own health and livelihoods, and that of their relatives, friends and work colleagues. The ECA strongly supports nationwide vaccination to allow us to safely reopen businesses and schools, restore the economic independence of citizens and bring a renewed hope for the future and the enjoyment of life for our children and young people.