“Engage workers instead of issuing threats!”: Banking union chides Saravanan

DIALOGUE and raising awareness of getting vaccinated is key to getting workers inoculated instead of issuing threats, said the National Union of Banking Employees (NUBE).

“It is widely accepted that vaccinations cannot always prevent COVID-19 infections and for those infected, despite getting inoculated, they can still transmit the virus to others.

“This has been acknowledged by the Health Ministry. Furthermore, it is now known that the efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines diminishes within months.

“So, we are concerned that such careless statements from the Human Resources Minister may lead to discrimination against unvaccinated employees, unfair dismissals and prejudice in the hiring process,” its general secretary J Solomon said in a statement.

On Sept 3, Human Resources Minister Datuk Seri M Saravanan was reported saying that employers have the right to require their staffers to get COVID-19 vaccines to prevent the virus spread at workplace.

While he acknowledged that there is no specific legislation on COVID-19 vaccinations yet, the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1994 (OSHA) nevertheless stipulates that employers have a right to make safety and health policies to ensure safety at the workplace.

“We still can apply OSHA and action still can be taken. When there are unvaccinated individuals, we can consider the workplace as unsafe,” New Straits Times reported the Tapah MP as saying.

Alternative approach

Unimpressed with Saravanan’s statement, Solomon said the former had caused much anxiety and mental stress among employees who are already suffering due to the pandemic.

He added that before the ministry takes any action or issues such stern statements, Saravanan should engage stakeholders to find a solution, which should include representatives from the Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) and the Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF).

“Talk to the employers and workers’ representatives on their health concerns, risks and vaccine efficacy and get support from medical experts and religious leaders.

“We should also find alternative approaches to COVID-19 infections, to include the concerns of those who are unable to get vaccinated or don’t wish to get vaccinated for various personal and health reasons,” Solomon opined.

He remarked: “NUBE hopes that Saravanan will respect the spirit of social dialogue with all stakeholders, including MTUC, MEF and NUBE, to strive towards attaining holistic social protection for all employees.” – Sept 9, 2021

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