Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi. (Image courtesy Parliament of Trinidad and Tobago)
DEREK ACHONG

Proposed legislation for transforming government ministries and agencies into quasi-safe zones is yet to be considered by Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley and his Cabinet colleagues.

Speaking at a virtual press conference, this morning, Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi said that drafts of the legislation were already prepared by his office and would be presented to Cabinet for approval when Dr Rowley returns to T&T after attending the Sixth Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GECF) in Doha, Qatar.

Al-Rawi noted that the legislation was expected to be introduced in January, but a one-month extension was given to allow his office to consult with stakeholders from trade unions and the private sector on key issues.

“Some of those issues included liability which the State is minded accepting and how we are going to treat persons who are constitutionally protected in terms of terms and conditions,” he said.

Al-Rawi said that the roll out of the policy was considered and the possibility of legal challenges in the Industrial Court and the High Court.

He said that the Cabinet’s ultimate decision would be based on scientific advice from Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Dr Roshan Parasram and his team from the Ministry of Health, and from the World Health Organisation (WHO).

“You have to understand that the science is not only the current science but what is on the horizon, so the experts are very important in this regard,” Al-Rawi said, as he noted that countries currently in a “state of relaxation” in the ongoing pandemic had high vaccination numbers, booster numbers and infection rates.

Since Dr Rowley announced the proposed policy in mid-December, there has been strong criticism of the move especially from the Joint Trade Union Movement (JTUM), whose members represent a large majority of public sector workers who stand to be affected.

While JTUM has said that it is not opposed to COVID-19 vaccination, it has maintained that it should remain voluntary, and workers who decide against it, should not face any penalties.