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) disclosed today that it filed “a lawsuit challenging the latest Covid-19 vaccine mandate issued last week by the government.”
That policy states that all government workers, including teachers, must be vaccinated by October 1 or remain at home, unpaid for the period for which they do not comply.
The ABPSA continued to say that it is “petitioning the court for Judicial Review of the Government’s policy and amendments to the Public Health Act (Dangerous Infectious Disease) Regulations, claiming they are unreasonable, irrational and disproportionate among other things.”
The association is also seeking a ‘stay’ of the policy until the matter is finalised in the High Court.
The lawyer representing the union, Warren Cassell, pointed out that “this is not a constitutional motion but rather an action in administrative law seeking judicial review of the policy as well as the amendment to the regulations. The first step is a filtering process. A litigant has to first obtain permission from the High Court to proceed.”
The court is expected to hear the application for ‘leave’ forthwith in accordance with the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court Civil Procedure Rules, the union’s release concluded.
Two days prior, the Antigua and Barbuda Trades and Labour Union (AT&LU), said that it “has received legal counsel and has commenced theprocess to challenge the Government’s Mandatory Vaccination Policy” but advised its unvaccinated members to remain at home until the matter is resolved.
This is because, an unvaccinated employee who attends the workplace would be in breach of the PublicHealth Act (Dangerous Infectious Disease) (Amendment) (No. 16) regulations 2021,and be liable to a fine of $500.00 or imprisonment of up to one month.
The AT&LU also stated that the results of the legal action that was started will be made known by or before September 30.
The Antigua and Barbuda Workers’ Union (ABWU) disclosed on September 19, that it “will continue to review and discuss the matter of mandatory vaccination with our legal representatives in an attempt to pursue any available legal challenges.”