Days before the planned reopening of safe zones, over 25 workers from the Royal Princess Casino staged a protest in front of their establishment yesterday, saying they will not be bullied into being vaccinated.
The workers stood socially distanced with placards outside the casino at South Park, San Fernando.
Supervisor Adanna Morgan said during the pandemic, workers tried to get in contact with management to get assistance following the shutdown of the gaming industry by the Government.
“We had staff who did not have food to eat. They couldn’t feed their families, they had holiday money inside and they asked for it but they were told that they could not get it,” Morgan said.
She explained that the management called a meeting on September 30 and revealed that only the vaccinated staff will be allowed to work at the casino. All unvaccinated staff were mandated to take a leave of absence.
“We asked for our holiday money and he say we cannot get it. When we asked for our money for the years we worked, seeing that we can no longer be in the establishment, he doesn’t want to give us that either,” Morgan said.
She explained that workers did not deserve this treatment.
“It have many days I finish work the late shift and I have to go back to my home in Port-of-Spain but they take back our transport. They don’t care what happened to us. I used to finish the night shift and come back again for the morning shift just to make sure this place is running and this is the thanks we get?”
She added, “What we want is what is rightfully ours. We want our holiday money and the monies that are owed to us.”
If the issue is not rectified, Morgan said they will seek legal advice and take the matter before the court.
Worker Judy Bonaparte said, “I’ve been working as a dealer for two years and six months. Half of us are single mothers who are renting. Some of us have health reasons. I don’t want to take it because the people who are dying are fully vaccinated. I am not ready to take it. If people still dying, I will not take this vaccine.”
Health officials have repeatedly said that the chance of vaccinated people contracting COVID-19 and falling gravely ill are significantly less than those who are unvaccinated.
In fact, the Ministry of Health revealed that the majority of people hospitalised in serious condition with COVID-19 are unvaccinated.
First Wave movement head Umar Abdullah threatened that his organisation will shut down operations at the casino.
“We are not going to tolerate this anymore. We are going to go to every business in this country that is instituting this mandatory vaccination and we will go to their doorsteps and stand firm with the workers,” he said.
He added, “Mr Prime Minister, I am calling on you to reverse your position as it relates to this issue of vax and unvax. Reverse the position now and warn those companies that you not supporting that idea.”
Another social media activist, David Welch, said the workers had requested a meeting with management to discuss their concerns but this has not materialised.
Guardian Media made several attempts to contact the manager of human resources but all calls went unanswered.