KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent – Several teachers have been formally dismissed from their jobs for failure to take a COVID-19 vaccine as mandated without medical or religious exemptions, the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Teachers’ Union (SVGTU) confirmed on Thursday.
The union told CMC News that as of Wednesday, 12 teachers had informed the union they had received dismissal letters.
“We expect that more would come in today and we are monitoring very closely what is happening, but the union’s commitment is to assist all of its members, both vaccinated and unvaccinated,” the union’s president, Oswald Robinson, said, adding that a number of the teachers had indicated they had not received any salary for December.
“Salaries are supposed to be paid today and some people have already checked and know that they have not received any salary [for December].”
Under the government’s vaccine mandate, frontline workers, including teachers, would be considered as absent without leave – even if they did show up for work – once they were not fully vaccinated.
Some teachers had been turning up to work despite their unvaccinated status and Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves had warned they would not be paid.
CMC News has obtained a December 10 letter to a teacher from Chief Personnel Officer, Arlene Regisford-Sam, informing of her termination.
The letter stated that the teachers had failed to comply with Rule 5 of the Public Health (Public Bodies Special Measures) Rules 2021 and, as a result, had been deemed absent from duty without leave since November 22, 2021.
“Accordingly, on behalf of the Public Service Commission, I have to inform you that you are deemed to have resigned your office with effect from December 7th, 2021 and have ceased to be an officer, in accordance with Regulation 31 of the Public Service Commission Regulation, Chapter 10 of the Laws of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines,” the termination letter stated.
Robinson said he has told the fired teachers that the union would be fighting on their behalf.
“I sent a voice note out to them to tell them to just stay focused… and we are moving forward with our legal battle still and at some point in time we may have other actions coming up,” the SVGTU boss said.
He added that his executive would meet on Friday.
“We are going to consolidate, we are going to strategize what we are going to do in the upcoming week,” Robinson said.
“We are monitoring very closely but we are definitely taking action. Our legal counsel are supposed to be filing sometime today or tomorrow and we are going forward in full force, straight to the end. We are not going to give up, we are not going to leave anybody unaccounted for.”
The union leader said a program may be implemented to assist those teachers who have not received a December salary.