Sun | Dec 5, 2021

CVM, union agree to more talks on vaccine ultimatum

Published:Wednesday | September 29, 2021 | 2:42 AMTanesha Mundle/Staff Reporter

Weeks after issuing a COVID-19 vaccination ultimatum to its workers, CVM TV has requested to have a ‘local level’ meeting with the National Workers Union (NWU) in the hope of settling the issue.

The meeting between the union and the television station is to be arranged for a day next week.

The trade union stepped in after CVM TV had refused to withdraw its controversial vaccination mandate.

Earlier this month, the company issued a letter advising staff that as of September 20, “anyone who is unvaccinated will be required to produce a negative COVID-19 test at their expense each Monday to HR,” the correspondence read.

“There will be no exceptions unless a certified medical report is provided to HR, exempting the person due to medical conditions.”

CVM’s Chief Executive Officer Shamena Khan had also indicated that the new requirement was non-negotiable.

However, during a meeting on Tuesday with both parties and representatives from the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, lawyers representing the TV station asked for an opportunity to meet with the trade union to discuss the matter.

General secretary of NWU, Granville Valentine, said that the union had agreed to the dialogue and was hopeful for an amicable settlement.

“I am of the view that the guidance that the company is getting now is sound. I am of the further view that the company did not take proper guidance before acting in the manner that they did,” Valentine told The Gleaner on Tuesday.

“So we want to settle the matter, we want for the workers to be comfortable back at their jobs. We also want for the protocols to be in place and for people to follow,” he added.

Valentine has accused CVM’s management of “bullyism” and inhumane treatment.

Both parties will again meet with the labour ministry next week Friday.

Efforts to reach the Khan were unsuccessful.

It is unclear whether the company is considering withdrawing the ultimatum or will be paying the affected workers for the days that they have been out of work.

CVM’s attorney-at-law Conrad George was in a very optimistic mood, describing Tuesday’s meeting as very successful

“I have every reason to believe that the matter will be resolved peacefully and satisfactorily,” he said.

However, he was unable to say if CVM TV would be honouring the union’s request.

Meanwhile, Christopher Barnes, president of the Media Association Jamaica (MAJ), said that the organisation has not yet taken a position on mandatory vaccination.

Furthermore, he said CVM TV was no longer a member of the MAJ.

Less than eight per cent of the Jamaican population is fully vaccinated.

tanesha.mundle@gleanerjm.com