NATUC General Secretary Michael Annisette

General Secretary of the National Trade Union Centre of Trinidad and Tobago, Michael Annisette wants more clarity in what Government means by “COVID-19 fatalities” and is questioning whether the way these fatalities are counted is correct.

In an official statement released today, Mr Annisette called on the Chief Medical Officer, the Minister of Health and the Government to assure the country they have a national and transparent definition for “COVID-19 fatalities”.

Mr Annisette’s statement comes after the Health Ministry reported 37 deaths from the disease in one day.

Annisette said: “After 37 deaths in a signal day, reassurance is absolutely needed at this time, and no number of public relations or legal manoeuvring can divert the attention of the citizens to the Covid pandemic crisis in Trinidad and Tobago. The vaccinated and unvaccinated are all human beings.” 

He added: “It is expected at this time that many persons going about their daily life will be affected with COVID-19, however, the reality is that many will be sub-clinical—that is minimally symptomatic and not severe enough to present definite or readily observable symptoms—and therefore, not requiring medical attention, while on the other hand, some will be asymptomatic, as confirmed by testing, but never develop symptoms during the period of their infection.”

“Deaths, therefore, in persons who tested positive, should not be listed as part of the COVID statistics, unless the patient succumbs to a pathology related to COVID-19, like respiratory failure, secondary to COVID lungs injury/pneumonia,” Annisette stated further.

The NATUC General Secretary says, “without a standardised case definition for COVID fatalities, deceased persons without incidental COVID can be misappropriated into daily statistics.”

“Trinidad and Tobago must explicitly define a standardised case definition for Covid fatalities in order to avoid panic in the public domain,” he added.

“While we in NATUC make no claims to be doctors, NATUC continues to wonder aloud if patients who succumb to another primary condition, for example heart disease resulting in a heart attack and who may have been tested positive for the Sars Cov2, are being included in the COVID statistics,” Annisette observed, as he called on the CMO to publicly clear the air on this. 

Mandatory vaccinations

The NATUC General Secretary also addressed the issue of Government’s proposed vaccine policy.

“NATUC will not stand idly by and allow this barbaric act of mandatory vaccinations to be effected on the innocent citizens of our beloved twin island,” he declared.

Annisette explained: “NATUC believes that if the government or private sector is serious about mandatory vaccination, the question of injury and liability acceptance by health care professionals and the government in Trinidad and Tobago, must be accepted on behalf of all workers…  The question of voluntary informed consent about the ingredients and quality of evidence in the context of long-term safety and efficacy of the vaccine must also form part of the government’s policy for transparency purposes.”

He added: “There must be a protocol for injury which could and may arise from the vaccine (injury report), and health care professionals must be mandated to follow this protocol.”

Michael Annisette indicated that NATUC is tapping into legal and medical expertise in order to be able to “address the real issues affecting workers who continue to be in the frontline and essential industries without substantial or material recognition.”

He said: “We in NATUC will be forever grateful to all nurses, doctors, healthcare professionals, port workers, WASA workers, TTEC workers, bus drivers, MTS workers, ambulance workers, both private and public, police officers, prison officers, fire service officers, and let us not forget the public servants and City Council sanitation workers who ensure that the garbage in the streets are cleared each day in this pandemic reality.”

He expressed concern that frontline and essential workers continue to be short-changed as “government cannot find money to pay salaries or wage increases”, which he described as “blatant insensitivity and disregard to our frontline workers and essential workers, who continue to keep the economy going.”

The NATUC General Secretary also sent a not too gentle reminder to the Attorney General and Government that social dialogue is crucial to ensuring the country comes through the pandemic.

“How we look at a problem is the first step in how we treat with the problem … NATUC is forced to remind the Attorney General and this government that the main goal of social dialogue is to promote consensus building and democratic involvement among main stakeholders in the world of work,” Annisette stated. 

“NATUC makes no apologies whatsoever, for taking the conscious decision not to attend the hastily and last-minute meeting called by the Attorney General. Our decision has been fortified after listening to the union leaders who attended the meeting and had to respond to the Attorney General’s public utterances after the meeting,” he added.