Unions in Antigua Take Legal Action Against Mandatory Vaccination

by Jovani Davis

antigua covid vaccine
Syringes and a package with the vaccine from AstraZeneca are ready and waiting at the fourth vaccination center in Berlin at Tegel Airport, Germany, Wednesday, Feb.10, 2021. (Kay Nietfeld/Pool via AP)

Three workers unions in Antigua and Barbuda have sought legal counsel in an effort to challenge the government’s vaccine mandate.

The Antigua and Barbuda Public Service Association (ABPSA) said today that it has “filed a lawsuit contesting the latest Covid-19 vaccination requirement issued by the government last week.”

According to the regulation, all government employees, including teachers, must get vaccinated by October 1 or remain at home unpaid for the period in which they fail to comply.

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According to the ABPSA, it is “petitioning the court for Judicial Review of the Government’s policy and changes to the Public Health Act (Dangerous Infectious Disease) Regulations, arguing they are arbitrary, irrational, and disproportionate, among other things.”

The association is also requesting that the policy be “stayed” until the case is resolved in the High Court.

Warren Cassell, the union’s lawyer, pointed out that “this is not a constitutional motion, but rather an administrative law case seeking judicial review of the policy as well as the change to the regulations.” The first step is to filter the data. To proceed, a plaintiff must first get authorization from the High Court.”

According to the union’s announcement, the court is anticipated to consider the motion for “leave” as soon as possible in accordance with the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court Civil Procedure Rules.

The Antigua and Barbuda Trades and Labour Union (AT&LU) had announced two days previously that it had “received legal counsel and has begun the process to challenge the Government’s Mandatory Vaccination Policy,” but encouraged its unvaccinated members to stay at home until the matter was settled.

This is due to the fact that an unvaccinated employee who attends work would be in violation of the PublicHealth Act (Dangerous Infectious Disease) (Amendment) (No. 16) rules 2021, and would be subject to a $500.00 fine or imprisonment for up to one month.

The AT&LU also indicated that the outcome of the legal action will be known by or by September 30.

On September 19, the Antigua and Barbuda Workers’ Union (ABWU) stated that it “will continue to study and debate the issue of forced vaccination with our legal representatives in order to pursue any viable legal challenges.”

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