President of the Belize National Teachers Union, Elena Smith says the Government of Belize is going through the backdoor to make it mandatory for teachers and other frontline workers to get vaccinated. To date, approximately sixty percent of teachers across the country have been vaccinated. A new statutory instrument now mandates that teachers and frontline workers who do not get vaccinated in the month of July will have to present a PCR test every two weeks. But, with a ten percent salary cut in effect, President Smith says teachers will not be able to afford a test every two weeks. Additionally, Smith argues that there are legitimate concerns about the vaccine among teachers.

Senator Elena Smith, National President, B.N.T.U.

"The issue that we have in terms of this pronouncement is that we have been saying that the vaccine is not mandatory. So, you determine as an individual whether you are going to be tested or not. And while the government is saying we are not mandating, what you put behind what you are saying comes across as you are making it mandatory. So, you are telling me that it is not mandatory, but if I don't have it by this date, this is what I must be doing. Considering the fact that you have cut my pay by ten percent, you are telling me that I have to go pay for a test every two weeks. You want to make it mandatory. Those are the concerns of not only our teachers, but I think our workers in general. Well, especially those that are listed as front-line workers. But, we do not see the Ministers listed as front line workers, and so I am not sure why they are not listed as frontline workers. But always, those are the concerns that our teacher has. How do you expect that I have a concern, a legitimate concern with regards to taking this, not because I don't want to, but because I have a legitimate concern, you are now telling me that I am going through the back door to make it mandatory to take the vaccine? And, I know there is going to be the argument that we have rights, but if your rights infringe on other people's right then we can do certain things. So, there is going to be the legal aspect of that. But that is the sentiments coming from our teachers."

Channel 5