Couva South MP Rudranath Indarsingh, left, presents a Christmas hamper to Anne Marie Peters at his constituency offices on Camden Road, Couva, on Tuesday 21 December 2021. (Photo courtesy the Office of the Member of Parliament for Couva South)

Member of Parliament for Couva South, Rudranath Indarsingh MP, has criticized the Government for threatening to withhold public servants’ salaries if they fail to get vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus.

MP Indarsingh spoke with Guardian Media following a hamper distribution ceremony at his constituency offices in Camden, Couva.

He argues that making vaccines mandatory for pay is a change in the terms of conditions of employment for public servants, and such changes in terms and conditions can only be done by the Public Service Commission.

The Couva South MP recalled the comment by President of the Industrial Court Deborah Thomas-Felix, who commented on the issue during the Ceremonial Opening of the Industrial Court 2021-2022.

“Mandatory vaccinations cannot be implemented unilaterally by employers, and that while employers are permitted to introduce policy for new employees, consultation is mandatory for it apply to existing workers,” the Industrial Court president had said.

“This government has had an anti-worker, anti-union approach to its rule, and their decision to make vaccinations mandatory without consultation is proof of this. It is evident that the Prime Minister is politically pressuring and bullying the independence of the Industrial Court and its judgements,” MP Indarsingh told Guardian Media.

“Within a year of praising public servants for being frontline heroes against the Covid virus, the Prime Minister is coming now to threaten their salaries,” he observed.

The Couva South MP asked: “What will happen to public servants making mortgage payments? What will be the impact on NIS and health surcharge payments? What will be the ability of these officers to take care of their families?”