About 300 workers from Republic Bank have been threatened with termination if they fail to get vaccinated or if they fail to provide a PCR test.
This was revealed by second vice president of the Bankers and Insurance General Workers Trade Union (BIGWU) Jason Brown during the final sitting of the Joint Select Committee on Social Services and Public Administration on Wednesday..
The JSC’s objective was to look at unemployment during the COVID-19 pandemic and assess the State’s capacity to provide support to unemployed people.
But Brown said conglomerates like Republic Bank have initiated vaccination policies that had caused anxiety among staff.
“It’s no end of woes for workers,” Brown said adding: “Republic, one of the largest banks in the country is unilaterally deciding to have workers engage in mandatory vaccines or if not to provide them with a PCR test at their expense, which is unaffordable for these workers.”
He also said there were 10 matters before the Industrial Court all related to the pandemic.
“These matters are going to be heard on February 1 and February 10 yet the workers from Republic Bank who have not received a vaccine or has not been able to provide a PCR test which they cannot afford, these workers will be suspended in January before the court date in February,” he said.
Because of the influence of Republic Bank, Brown said other private companies will be guided by the precedent set by the court as it relates to mandatory vaccines.
“During the unprecedented pandemic, we have addressed many issues including retrenchment in some areas and we have dealt with several industrial relations issues which found their way to Ministry of Labour and the Industrial Court. We have addressed several issues that employers have grappled with including vaccination in the workplace. Some workers took the vaccine, others did not,” he said.
Peter Farmer, secretary-general of the Aviation Communication and Allied Workers’ Trade Union said the union had suspended union dues and had used monies to support families, who were displaced by the pandemic.
He noted that 140 workers had their Income Relief Grant approved but said the ministry had indicated the funds were not available for distribution.
Chairman of the JSC Paul Richards said it was the first time that he heard of this complaint.
“I have heard of challenges in processing, compliance but never heard that grants were approved but no funding available to pay,” he added.
Contacted for comment, Republic Bank’s General Manager of Group Marketing and Communications Karen Tom Yew- Jardine said, “The Bank has outlined a clear Return to Work policy which has had the desired outcome of producing a workforce that is 92 per cent fully vaccinated.”
She added, “The staff are expected to comply with this and all other policies set by the bank. The bank continues to educate its remaining few unvaccinated staff as to the importance of being vaccinated as the country seeks to reopen fully.”