TRINIDAD: Court orders company to pay 6 unvaccinated workers

Interior of an empty courtroom with gavel and sounding block on the desk.

TTNEWS DAY: Trinidadian company Waste Disposal Ltd and Envirotec Holdings Ltd have been ordered to pay six unvaccinated workers until September when an Industrial Relations Offences (IRO) hearing, filed by the Communications’ Workers Union (CWU), will take place.

The hearing between the CWU and the companies was heard in the Industrial Court on Wednesday.

Speaking to Newsday after the hearing, CWU Secretary General Clyde Elder said the companies’ attempt to send the workers home fell flat as the judge ordered that the workers be paid.

He said an injunction was filed in December, 2021 after the workers, who weren’t allowed on the compound, claimed they were being treated unfairly. However, Elder said the order was not upheld and they had to go back to court in January, 2022.

On Wednesday, the companies were also given a fine of $20,000 each for its inability to pay the workers since February.

“The company representative attempted to make it look like the court was being biased to the union. I objected to that. The court also had to indicate to the representative that the Industrial Court is there to dispense justice,” said Elder. “The companies are of the belief that the court is being unfair to them.”

Contacted for comment, employment and labour law consultant Dr Jamille Broome who represented the companies said they could not pay the workers as the companies were affected by the closure of businesses during the pandemic.

He said the companies did not have a vaccine mandate but most of the clients of both companies were safe zones.

“They (the clients) are large, fast-food chains. The company sent out a memo after the Prime Minister announced the safe zone initiative and said everyone on the premises must be vaccinated.

“We have to comply because those are our clients. If we don’t comply with the mandate that they were given, how are we supposed to maintain our contractual obligation to the client?”

He said the last time the workers were paid was the end of January.

Broome said the workers would still be banned from entering the premises.

Broome expressed his disappointment in the court’s decision.

“Would they prefer if the company goes into financial ruin? They want to take away the company’s ability to continue to hire most of the workforce for six people.”

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