FLASHBACK - A member of the public is vaccinated at SATT’s vaccination site at the Centre Pointe Mall in Chaguanas in June.

The Chaguanas Chamber of Industry and Commerce (CCIC) has appealed to business owners to avoid strong-arming their employees in efforts to have them vaccinated.

Chamber head Richie Sookhai said, “While the Chamber understands that businesses are doing whatever is necessary to ensure that their customers and staff members are safe, it is our duty as leaders to motivate, educate and inspire employees and by extension their families toward vaccination.”

He added, “The CCIC fully agrees that members of the population should be vaccinated so that Trinidad and Tobago can overcome the spread of the COVID-19 virus and its devastating effects. This is why the CCIC has collaborated with Couva Point Lisas Chamber of Industry and Commerce in a mass vaccination drive. Nevertheless, the measures taken by some business owners to require the submission of regular PCR tests are draconian and it displays a lack of sympathy to a segment of society that has been hit the hardest by the onslaught of the virus.”

According to the Sookhai, the cost of the test was quite burdensome for workers to pay on a regular basis.

“The average cost of a PCR test ranges from $1,000 to $1,500. Therefore, having a regular PCR test would not only be unduly burdensome to these employees but would also erode a large portion of their income,” he said.

The CCIC president said this is why the chamber is advocating for the use of “new leadership tactics and moral suasion to encourage staff members on both the rewards of vaccination and the risks of remaining unvaccinated.”

He added that during the chamber’s vaccination drive there were people at the front gate, still hesitant about being vaccinated and volunteers and officials there were able to persuade them to proceed.

“Those that required additional counsel received comfort about the safety and benefits of the vaccine by the medical professionals present. We understand how critical it is to be vaccinated but we did not resort to indirect measures of force,” Sookhai said.