The Nigeria Labour Congress and the Trade Union Congress have frowned on Edo State Government’s decision to bar public workers who do not have proof of COVID-19 vaccination from the secretariat and other government establishments.

They said the move was an infringement on workers’ rights.

Recall that the state government had announced that it would stop those without vaccination cards from government establishments from Wednesday in order to curb the spread of COVID-19 in the state.

The exercise which began before 7am on Wednesday saw the state Head of COVID-19 Enforcement Team, Mr Yusuf Haruna, manning the main gate of the secretariat in the GRA, while other teams took charge of other entry points.

Those who provided their vaccination cards were allowed entry, while others who could not were told to go back home.

Some civil servants said they did not bring their cards with them, while those who had it in their offices sent their colleagues to bring them to the gate before they were allowed in.

“I didn’t know that the order will take effect as I have not had electricity in my house for over one week. I have been vaccinated and I will be back with my card tomorrow,” one of the workers told the PUNCH.

When asked about how the government would sustain the enforcement,  Haruna said, “What is important is that where there is will, there is a way. Governor Godwin Obaseki had demonstrated that the state wants to save lives by giving this directive.”

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But the state chairman of the TUC, Marshall Ohue, said, “Government is concerned about the citizens by telling them to get vaccinated, but at the same you cannot infringe on the rights of the people you are trying to vaccinate.

“It not good enough to lock workers out because it is a personal issue; they have the right to say they will take or will not.

“We are planning to meet with the government  because we were not consulted before the decision was taken.”

Also, the state Chairman of the NLC,  Sunday Osayande, said, “I directed my vice chairman and the secretary to meet with the Secretary to the State Government; but the SSG said it is a directive from the governor.

“There will be a congress on Friday and we will take decisions on the way forward.

“I ask whether the government is not infringing on the right of workers but was told that it is the workers that are infringing on the right of the people because they don’t want anybody to be infected.”

“We don’t succeed by violence but by peaceful negotiations. I will encourage workers to go and vaccinate but will not be forced to do so.

Obey court order

Meanwhile, the Nigerian Bar Association, Benin branch, has called on the Edo State Government to obey the decision of the vacation Judge of the Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, which restrained the state government from barring people, who have not taken the COVID-19 vaccination, from public spaces.

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In a statement on Wednesday by Pius Oiwoh, Chairman and  Lawani Oisamaiye, Secretary, the body said,  “While we acknowledge that the intentions of the government may be noble, the Edo State Government must be seen to be law-abiding while going about this move.”

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