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Atmosphere of ‘toxicity and disharmony’ in workplace caused by Covid disagreements

Armell Thomas, president of the Bermuda Public Services Union (File photograph)

Disagreements over the Covid-19 vaccine have created an atmosphere of “toxicity and disharmony” in the workplace, a union leader claimed yesterday.

Armell Thomas, the president of the Bermuda Public Services Union, said that there were “divisions” between the vaccinated and unvaccinated.

He added that the union “will protect any member who may find themselves being discriminating against or treated unfavourably because of personal choice”.

In a letter to members, Mr Thomas encouraged them to get the jab, saying: “We are supportive of the Government’s vaccination efforts.”

But he acknowledged that everyone had a right to make a personal choice on the subject, and that that choice should be respected.

He said: “For some, the decision of what best works for their own health is causing great levels of anxiety and stress. Our position is to support our members no matter the personal choice they make.

“As a union, we represent a large group of diverse members and respect their personal choice regarding navigating this pandemic.

“Unfortunately, we are receiving reports of toxicity and disharmony in the workplace surrounding this topic.

“It is therefore important that we emphasise that bullying, harassment and incivility of any kind will not be tolerated, and we will protect any member who may find themselves being discriminated against or treated unfavourably because of personal choice.

“This is not the time to pit the vaccinated against the unvaccinated.

“Our community must begin to rebuild from the losses attributed to this virus. This cannot be achieved without collaboration, unity and understanding of one’s personal choice.

“As a union, we advocate a message of personal choice, safety and responsibility during these times.

“We encourage our members to carefully conduct your own research, utilising respected and validated scientific sources and speak with your personal physician to assist in making the best-informed decision that works for you.

“Individual measures should also be taken to assist you to bolster your immune system. In these times, we must seek to employ measures that work to keep you safe and healthy, both physically and mentally.”

“The BPSU recognises that this is a personal choice, however, please remember that above all, we advise against adopting the perception that you will be fine by just doing nothing.”

Mr Thomas highlighted a number of education programmes the union was running “to ensure that we provide representation and information for our members”.

He said: “The BPSU Education Committee is committed to facilitating educational forums and our popular Lunch and Learn sessions that will allow our members to better informed, ask questions and ultimately feel comfortable with whatever decision they make.”

Earlier this month the Bermuda Industrial Union raised concerns that non-vaccinated employees were being discriminated against.

Chris Furbert, the president of the BIU, said: “We have heard the conversation going around that vaccinated people are being treated differently from those that are not vaccinated.”

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Published October 29, 2021 at 8:26 am (Updated October 29, 2021 at 8:26 am)

Atmosphere of ‘toxicity and disharmony’ in workplace caused by Covid disagreements

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