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Nurses among protesters outside Parliament, on Aug. 5, 2021. (iWN Photo)
Nurses among protesters outside Parliament, on Aug. 5, 2021. (iWN Photo)
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By On-Foot Observer

“After shoving your hand into the bees’ honeycomb and the onslaught of stings have ceased, is it not your own hand to lick?” – On-Foot Observer

I’m sure we can all remember that point in the COVID-19 pandemic when the ultimatum was placed in front of the public servants — they either take the jab or lose their job. Some were so determined that they would not be vaccinated that they preferred to lose their job. Some people regarded this decision as stupid — to lose your job just because you didn’t want to take an injection. These people made the point that we were vaccinated, more than once, and for more than one disease during our childhood years. They conveniently ignore the point that unlike those childhood vaccines taken, the COVID-19 vaccine was experimental.

Allow me to state my position clearly. The government workers made the right choice by refusing to take the vaccine against their own consciences. However, now another choice presents itself to the same group of people: fight to stop the government’s appeal to the ruling in the vaccine mandate case, or stand on the sidelines, do nothing and observe how it plays out. It’s definitely no ultimatum like the one pushed during the vaccine mandate, because no one is being told, “take action and stop the appeal, or else…” However, there is an “or else” to making the choice of fighting the appeal, which somehow remains unspoken.

Being unaware, or unconcerned, as many seem to be, simply means that we would likely choose inaction—our default response of doing nothing while waiting to see what happens. We refuse to take action. Perhaps we don’t realise that this choice of inaction also has consequences that take the form of the unspoken “or else”. While the bitter side of the consequences of refusing to take the jab were well pronounced and felt, the consequences of inaction in this matter would be just as painful. For instance, the appeal may take years. Besides the idea of justice delayed being justice denied, consider that that would mean that the government workers would have to bear additional years without reinstatement. They would also be deprived of their benefits and the damages awarded for years. If in the year and some before the judgment, many people were already struggling with their mortgage payments, rent, bills and other obligations, how do you see it going for two or three years more?

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In the case of the vaccine mandate, the bitter side of the consequences of their choice was losing their livelihoods and all the issues that came with it, while the sweet side is the vindication along with everything that the court has awarded them. Therefore, to make the choice of inaction would be essentially robbing oneself of the sweet side of his choice in the vaccine ultimatum. Inaction would help to make it so that you only suffered the bitter side of your righteous choice in the vaccine ultimatum while never getting a taste of the sweet side.

Consider this, when the 7% increase was announced, which government workers would receive in instalments of about roughly 2.5% per year, people, although wanting more, relished in that prospect and look forward to it with anticipation, even though it worked out be like only around EC$70 additional or so for the average worker. The same was the case with EC$500 that was awarded to a fraction of the public servants. We look forward eagerly for these meagre sums of money. We make plans around them, fixate our minds on them, and even allow these little sums to influence our rational views, integrity and determination. How now are we not charmed by much larger sums?

Is that we fail to logically grasp what we stand to gain at this moment if the government’s appeal is prevented. Imagine for instance, that you are a public servant with a salary of EC$1,500 per month, the judge’s ruling that you be paid for all of the months you were kept off the job would see you standing to receive EC$21,000 in back-pay off the bat. You could have found this out at any point using your child’s mathematics calculator. You may also find out that by doing the calculation with your specific salary, which is very likely to be more than EC$1,500, that you stand to gain far more than EC$21,000 in back-pay alone! These calculations beg the question; at what point did 2.5%, amounting to EC$70 in some cases and a one-off payment of $500 become more than EC$21,000.00? Do you know what EC$21,000 can do for your mortgage payments, rental payments, arrears on your bills or your child’s tuition fees?

Furthermore, outside of this compensation for the months you were kept away from your jobs, you get back your gratuity, government pension, NIS retirement benefits, damages, etc. How many multiples of that EC$21,000 do you think all of these sums would amount to in additional monies for you once the judge’s ruling is upheld? So, while you may feel disheartened and resentful and may very well want nothing to do with the public service or those responsible for, and enabled your suffering, I urge you to think logically. Are you really going to just leave upwards of EC$21,000 on the table?

To choose inaction is to choose to prolong your own suffering and delay your own benefits. To choose inaction is to choose the denial of your own justice and just desserts, and to draw oneself a little closer to poverty and or homelessness. Most are of the opinion that it is highly unlikely that the ruling would be overturned on the appeal. However, considering all that is at stake, wouldn’t you feel far more assured with the zero percent chance that no appeal would afford you instead? This way the sweet side of your original choice in the vaccine ultimatum would be secure. If there was ever a good time for you to be motivated by greed, it would be now. The choice that you should make ought to be obvious by now. Indeed, deemed to have abandoned their jobs have to live with the consequences of their choices. Take action to force the termination of this appeal. Support the unions!

Lick your hand before the sweet honey takes to the wind and leaves in dryness, for the bees grow fiercer On-Foot Observer

The opinions presented in this content belong to the author and may not necessarily reflect the perspectives or editorial stance of iWitness News. Opinion pieces can be submitted to [email protected].