Fri | May 14, 2021

Selfish …Tufton blasts marine pilots for service withdrawal to get COVID shot

Published:Friday | April 9, 2021 | 2:24 PM
Tufton: “It is a bad signal to send, that persons who want vaccine can stop work, even in an essential service, where people’s lives are at stake. I think it is selfish, frankly speaking."

Health and Wellness Minister Dr Christopher Tufton has described as selfish, the decision by the country’s marine pilots to withdraw their services as they pressed their case for them to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

The Gleaner was informed that the pilots had carried out their threat to stop working after midnight if their request for the vaccine was not met.

They resumed working earlier today after some of the pilots started receiving their jab.  

Arrangements were made for the marine pilots to get the vaccine at the St Joseph’s Hospital in St Andrew.

“I think it is an unfortunate step that has been taken by a small group of individuals who are key to the proper functioning of our economic activity, given the importance of the role they play,” Tufton said following a tour at the Spanish Town Hospital in St Catherine today.   

“It is a bad signal to send, that persons who want vaccine can stop work, even in an essential service, where people’s lives are at stake. I think it is selfish, frankly speaking” he lamented.  

President of the Marine Pilot Association, Hubert Kerr, said yesterday that the pilots would not be satisfied with being placed on a priority list, as their job, which includes interacting with other foreigners, places them at risk. 

A marine pilot is a sailor who manoeuvres ships through dangerous or congested waters such as harbours.

READ: Marine pilots at ports demanding COVID vaccination, warn of service withdrawal

“Almost everything for the continued development and growth or stability of the country that takes place, it comes through the shipping port. If the shipping port closes down, no flour, no rice, nothing at all can move,” Kerr said.   

Tufton said that the schedule for the country’s vaccination programme includes those who work at ports of entry.

This includes those who work at the airports and the seaports, like the marine pilots.  

“We realise the importance of their role and the need for them to be vaccinated, as is the case with our immigration officers, our customs officers, and all the others who are important and they can now proceed under arrangements to go and get their jab,” he said. 

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