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Minister of Labour Stephen Mc Clashie.

The government is not examining mandatory vaccinations for public sector workers, says Labour Minister Stephen McClashie.

His comments yesterday, came after United National Congress (UNC) MP Rudy Indarsingh on Wednesday called for Government to say if it is preparing law or regulations for mandatory vaccinations in the workplace.

Indarsingh was speaking in Parliament’s debate on a motion to extend the State of Emergency. It was passed with Government votes alone as the Opposition abstained from the vote.

Indarsingh said after Government’s recent ‘Big Stick’ hint on possible mandatory vaccination for students, “Sources told me they’re hearing through the grapevine Government is preparing legislation for Parliament to make vaccinations mandatory in workplaces. I ask because Government is the largest public sector employers.

But McClashie told Guardian Media yesterday, “Mr Indarsingh’s claims aren’t true.’’

He said the issue of mandatory vaccination carries a lot of legal and constitutional issues that cannot be mandated by the Government and to do any mandatory vaccination will require a special majority vote of three-fifths of the Parliamentarians.

Therefore he said Government’s approach is to continue with the mandate to “vaccinate to operate” and how fast T&T opens up and what sectors do so will depend on the country getting to herd immunity.

McClashie estimated there were roughly about 500,000 people with first doses and approximately 300,000 odd with both doses and daily more were getting vaccinated.

He said the approach the government is taking with vaccinations is to encourage with a lot of advertisements.

“And there’s been no pronouncement that if you don’t take it we are going to make it mandatory,” he said.

He added that one cannot remove the idea that if the more highly transmissible Delta variant becomes very rampant and T&T starts having multiple deaths, it’s been said that option may still be open.

“But we’re not pursuing that (mandatory vaccination) at this point,” he said.

McClashie also said proposed guidelines for work operations—to guide workers and employers­—is being examined by a Cabinet team.

This follows the reopening of businesses, and social media highlighting various issues involving workers and employers. McClashie said the government was aware of the issues that were occurring and didn’t want workers to be exploited or any mix-ups.

Guidelines take into consideration all industrial issues and effects on workplaces and add clarity to Government’s position—vaccinate to operate—as the best way for economic reopening—but there’s no mandatory vaccination in this.

Once approved consultations follow with workers’ representatives and employers who’ll be given the guidelines to comment upon.