SIPEU to conduct assessment on public servants as ‘no jab, no job’ expires midnight tonight

SIPEU General Secretary Robert Au

As the clock is ticking towards the expiry date of COVID-19 first dose of vaccine for public servants at midnight tonight, the Solomon Islands Public Employees Union (SIPEU) will be conducting an assessment on public servants in the coming days. 

The government’s approved ‘no jab, no job’ mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy for public servants comes into effect tomorrow. 

SIPEU, which protects and advances the rights and interests of the country’s public service officers, had it that whatever the assessment finds out will be further negotiated with the national government.

SIPEU General Secretary Robert Au told SIBC News that this assessment is to find out how many public servants are not allowed into their offices.

“At the moment we are yet to see how many public servants are affected by this. But we will be doing our assessment as of this week and next week to find out how many public servants are not entering their work premises.

“So, the assessment is to see what sort of ministries that accommodate SIPEU members already implement this policy.

“From that, we will refer back to our executive to make a decision and plan as to how we will approach it, and to work together with the Government and negotiate, or how we can talk with the them on anything that may come up after the assessment,” Mr Au told SIBC News in an interview. 

Government officers and State-Owned Enterprises (SOE) employees have been issued a circular recently.

The circular stated: “Any one who chooses not to take first dose vaccine by 31st August will not be allowed to come to office as from 1st September 2021 and any employee that is not fully vaccinated by 30th November 2021 will be taken as having self-terminated from employment.”

Mr Au said on 21st August 2021, SIPEU executive met and talked about this issue as one of their agenda.

“And as we know, this is a mandatory which the Government issued to every public servant to vaccinate before today, 31st August.

“We have agreed to go by what the government has outlined in its mandatory circular for every public servant to vaccinate against the virus,” he said.

Mr Au said the SIPEU executive also discussed and touched on public servants who are ineligible for the COVID-19 vaccine such as pregnant women and women that are still breastfeeding.

The Government’s three-paged circular failed to specify this. 

Mr Au said they will seek advice from the doctors first for those that work in the public service.

Meanwhile, Solomon Islands Council of Trade Unions president David Tuhanuku believes the mandatory policy will have a ripple effect across the community.

“There are many families depending on their livelihood, education of their children…a lot of them are in the public service,” Mr Tuhanuku told Radio Australia. 

Tuhanuku said the council does not go against the vaccine itself  but worried about the potential job losses.

He said if dialogue failed, unions would have little option but to take action against the government.

Only 2 percent of Solomon Islands’ eligible population has been fully vaccinated since the vaccination rollout started in March this year.

by Jared Koli

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