Teachers have been encouraged to remain steadfast in their fight to protect their jobs and fundamental rights and freedoms, as they continue to protest against being required to take a COVID-19 vaccine.
Yesterday, October 11 was the first of two days during this week that teachers are scheduled to stay away from online teaching in protest at the government’s vaccine policy, which recognises teachers as a group considered to be frontline workers and therefore required to be vaccinated in order to continue working in that field.
The union issued a release last week, stating that teachers would stay away from online schooling for three days; the first being Wednesday, October 6.
The third day will be this Friday, October 15.
According to the release, an injunction has also been filed against the government of St Vincent and the Grenadines.
“Brothers and sisters, we cannot at this time give up this fight to protect our jobs and to protect our fundamental rights and freedoms. Do not be intimidated by allowing anybody to force you against your conscience to be vaccinated,” Oswald Robinson, the president of the St Vincent and the Grenadines Teachers Union (SVGTU) said in a recorded message to teachers yesterday, their second day of withdrawal of service.
Education minister, Curtis King said last Thursday that teacher turnout for online teaching on their first day of service withdrawal on Wednesday was above 90 per cent at most schools.
But in his message to teachers yesterday, the union president urged educators to not “be side tracked about bogus statistics as being portrayed by the authorities concerning online classes”.
“We are looking forward to honouring that commitment, that obligation in our quest against the government of St Vincent and the Grenadines, against mandatory vaccination,” he said.
Robinson noted that this is a choice one should make only if they are convinced they should be vaccinated.
However, if they are not convinced and feel as though it is violating their conscience, then they should not be made to do anything against their will.
The retired principal assured teachers that the union continues to fight this battle by protesting through withdrawing from online teaching, while strategizing and preparing for a legal battle against the government.
“Do not give up. Now is the time that we have to stand firm, stand together, as we go through this very critical period. Do not get into any media conflict with anyone. Just be calm, do not be stressed,” Robinson said.
In addition to vaccination, he also noted that teachers have complained about being overworked, another issue that the union will address in due course.
“Remember to call into the office and to lodge any grievance you may have about overwork online. We have our collective agreement and we are staying within that framework,” he said.
Up to press time, it was unclear what percentage of teachers were present for online teaching yesterday.