Vaxx Mandate For Public Officers Recalled
On November the 15th, the Ministry of Public Service came out boldly
when it declared vaccine mandate for all public officers. They were
told via circular that if they didn't have a vaccine by December the
14th, they could not report for a work in a government office effective
But, 6 days from that deadline, government has again capitulated - and
agreed to a compromise with the Public Service Union.
A rare joint realize came out this evening, which says that the
minister of the Public Service, Henry Charles Usher and the Minister of
Health & Wellness, Michel Chebat met with the President of the PSU
Dean Flowers yesterday to discuss the vaccine mandate. Also present at
the meeting was the man who signed the circular, CEO in the Ministry of
the Public Service, Rolando Zetina, as well as members of the Union
And, they decided that the vaccine mandate, quote, "will be postponed
until such time it is deemed fit and unavoidable."
We spoke to the PSU President via Zoom half an hour ago and asked him
if he's declaring this a victory:
Dean Flowers - President, Public Service Union
"Well in my humble view, I don't see it as a victory for PSU, I see it
as a victory for democracy, I see it as a victory for public officers,
I see it as a victory for social dialogue and inclusion and it's not a
victory but a victory for Belizeans that if we can speak to each and
respect each other's opinion and if we can appreciate what the other
person is saying we can all come out winning. At the current moment, we
were able to agree there is absolutely no life and death urgency before
us that would require us to proceed with the mandate, however guided by
data, we have agreed that, guided on what the numbers are saying as it
relates to the infection rate within the public service, there may come
a time that this COVID virus and the different variants, if they just
keep on propagating and it gets worse, we might not have a choice,
however if it gets that bad I don't think that there will need to be a
mandate, Belizeans on public officers who we represent and do the right
thing and get their vaccines."
"I don't see any languages in there suggesting that you all will launch
a drive or encourage people, to me it looks like just status quo,
nobody move, nobody get hurt."
"We will not have to hit the ground to ascertain how many public
officers are indeed vaccinated and how many are not and that just
ascertaining that number will not guide us in making any decision where
a vaccine mandate is concerned but that number will guide us in
determining the extent of the campaign that will have to be rolled out
within the public sector to educate, inform and sensitize public
officers about the vaccine and about the importance of getting
vaccinated and so when we make a decision as to whether or not there is
a need for us to support a vaccine mandate by the government, we will
be guided by data and it will not be an emotional decision as what we
believe was this case, this current mandate on hold, we believe it was
an emotional mandate and not a mandate guided by data."
"What other data do you need? 600 people are dead."
"I think you are being very nefarious Jules, 600 people are dead but
that is from the wider society, that is not limited or specific to the
public service, we cannot make a decision on public service with that
data. What the government can do however, is to use that as a guide as
to whether or not they will implement a mandatory vaccination mandate
for the entire country of Belize."
The joint release goes not say, quote, "The Union and Government of
Belize will work together to compile statistics, such as the percentage
of vaccinated public officers, COVID 19 infection rate within the
Public Service, mortality rate among public officers and the sickness
benefit costs associated with the disease thus far."
That study may take months to compile - but the release concludes that
the parties have agreed to work together to promote and encourageâ€¦
safety protocols (which are unspecified).
So, will a vaxx mandate ever be enforced for the public service? Here's
how the release delicately puts it:"whenever deemed unavoidable and in
the best interest and safety of public officersâ€¦(both sides will work
together) to effect the gradual introduction of a vaccine mandate."
Bottom line, no fixed timeline, means no timeline at all, so don't hold