Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Association says some Antigua hotel workers ‘forfeited jobs’

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St John’s – The Antigua and Barbuda Hotels and Tourism Association (ABHTA) has confirmed that some of its workers have forfeited their jobs, even as almost 100 per cent of them have been vaccinated against the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

ABHTA executive chairman Vernon Jeffers acknowledged that letters had been sent to those workers who had not been vaccinated informing that they have forfeited their jobs.

The affected workers had been given a one-month grace period in which to comply with the vaccination mandate for the sector, and Jeffers said that he does not expect there would be too great a disruption among the hotels since over 90 percent of hospitality workers have been vaccinated.

“I doubt that too many hotels would in fact have to share that letter because from feedback we have been getting almost 98 to 100 [per cent] of the persons who are working have been vaccinated. It’s really just a few, a handful of employees at this time who that letter would impact,” Jeffers said.

The affected workers have been informed that payment for any outstanding vacation due will be processed in the usual manner and Jeffers said that the ABHTA had been very patient about the vaccination policy.

“We know that some of the employees did have concerns, we continued to have dialogue with them and have professionals and doctors and counsellors coming in and speaking with them and addressing those concerns. We then saw more and more persons getting vaccinated,” Jeffers told the Observer Radio.

The move by the hoteliers follows an announcement by the Antigua and Barbuda government that with effect from October 1, all unvaccinated public sector employees, inclusive of statutory corporations and companies of which the government holds majority shares shall be required to remain at home until proof of COVID-19 vaccination.

The government also said that from that date, public sector workers would not be paid a salary or wage for the period of non-compliance with the current policy.

Last month, Prime Minister Gaston Browne stopped just short of announcing that his government would be implementing a mandatory vaccination policy, warning of tougher and more unpopular measures to deal with the spread of the virus that has killed 97 people and infected 3 984 others since March last year.

“This is a very serious issue. I have signalled to the people of Antigua and Barbuda months ago that if we have to make vaccination mandatory in this country we will do it. We are not afraid to do it,” Browne told Parliament then. (CMC)

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