Security forces unions tackle mandatory vaccinations with lawyers

Photo: Sergio Perez, Reuters

Although the decree on mandatory vaccinations for selected professions are going to be published by the end of the week, the police and firefighters’ unions still do not know how it will be enforced. The unions are considering, after consultation by lawyers, challenging the decree in the courts.

“At the moment, the final form of the introduction of the so-called mandatory vaccination against Covid-19 is not known, so it is impossible to predict from the employer’s point of view what the consequences of a possible refusal to vaccinate would be,” said Rudolf Kramář, a spokesman for the Czech Fire Brigade. He added that in their department, they have already seen the first draft of the decree and have reservations about some parts, such as the use of incorrect terminology.

The Firefighters’ Union (OSH) also disagreed with the decree. “I am waiting for our lawyers to analyze the draft amendment because I have information that some sections of it are in conflict with the law on the protection of public health,” said Jiří Jílek, president of the OSH. He did not deny that the union could challenge the decree, depending on the lawyers’ recommendations. Jílek stressed that he supports vaccination, but in its voluntary form. 

The OSH chairman hopes that the unions will be given room for discussion. This regulation was hastily created without consulting us and other units based on the recommendations of experts. If the new ministers will be fair and modify the decree, they should give us space to comment on it, ” Jílek noted.

Tomáš Machovič, chairman of the Independent Police Union of the Czech Republic, is worried about the upcoming decree too. The penalty for disobeying the decree is set at CZK 10,000. However, there is no clear information about the enforcement of the fine either. No one has clarified whether the unvaccinated will be repeatedly fined every day or month. For unvaccinated police officers, however, termination of service seems more likely, “he commented.

A similar fate could await unvaccinated volunteer firefighters in units that are also subject to the mandatory vaccination under the decree. “The only possible solution for volunteers is to be removed from the unit or temporarily banned from taking part in active missions because they are not employed,” said Martina Hartmanová, deputy of the Prague City Firefighters Association.

Municipal police officers are also affected by the decree. Health Minister Adam Vojtěch (ANO) said it would not make sense if the obligation did not apply to them as well.

“This decision was partly surprising. At moments when, for example, benefits for emergency services are being given, such as rewards for deployment in a pandemic, municipal police remain on the sidelines of these considerations, “stated Jakub Ghanem, spokesman for the Brno municipal police.

Ghanem pointed out that the inclusion of officers, on the other hand, is logical given that patrols check compliance with the measures daily and are therefore in direct contact with groups at risk. 

Jindřich Machů, spokesman for the Ostrava Municipal Police, and Irena Seifertová, spokesperson for the Prague City Police, underlined that their departments were not involved in the debates about the decree. “But now there is information about the possibility of the new decree to be challenged by the new government or in court by the unions. The question is how it will eventually turn out, “Seifertová said.