A TEACHER who is now without a job for failing to take a COVID-19 vaccine as mandated, never expected to be fired.
“I thought that maybe somebody would have come to the realisation that the whole thing was just bogus. It was too surreal to be real. So I did not think they would have gone through with it, but the reality hit me yesterday when I was reading the letter,” the teacher, with over 20 years’ service, said yesterday.
Simon Charles (not his real name) spoke with SEARCHLIGHT yesterday, minutes after leaving the bank, where he had gone to see if his account had been credited with his salary for December. He discovered, like dozens of other public servants who defied the Government’s vaccination order, that he had not been paid.
Charles, in his late forties, spoke with SEARCHLIGHT on the condition that he not be identified.
He admitted that when he received his letter of dismissal on Wednesday, December 15, his entire body began to shake.
“I became somewhat shaky where I was standing. Not only because of the contents of the letter, but because I did not
expect to receive one. Somehow I thought I would be immune to the whole plot, drama… I thought it was too threatening to be realised, but here it is.”
Friday December 3 was the final day for teachers and certain other public sector workers to be vaccinated against COVID-19 if they wanted to maintain their posts.
This is as a result of SR& O #28 of 2021-The Public Health (Public Bodies Special Measures) Rules, which came into effect on November 19, 2021 and required specific groups to take the jab or lose their jobs.
But Charles said he continued to teach his class online and taught up to Wednesday of this week, because up to that point, he had not been written to and his school and pupils needed him.
“So I continued to teach online and did revision with the children.”
The letter of dismissal which was dated December 10, 2021 said Charles had, “without reasonable excuse” failed to comply with Rule 5 of SR& O No. 28 of 2021 – The Public Health (Public Bodies Special Measures) Rules 2021.
Rule 5 states that every employee in specified categories must be vaccinated against the coronavirus- disease 2019 unless they are granted an exemption. Charles did not seek an exemption as he believes that “an exemption for one should be an exemption for all.”
The letter further read: “As a result of your failure to comply with Rule 5, you have been absent from duty without leave since November 22, 2021, pursuant to Rule 8 of the Rules.
“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 7, 2021, and have ceased to be an officer, in accordance with Regulation 31 of the Public Service Commission Regulations Chapter 10 of the Laws of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.”
He was thanked for his service and wished success by Chief Personnel Officer Arlene Regisford- Sam, who signed the letter. Charles said he accepts that he has been fired and will not continue to turn up for work. He also will not take a COVID-19 vaccine as he believes the vaccination drive is all part of a diabolical plot and the vaccine will be harmful to his health.
The resident of South Leeward said the evidence supporting his decision not to be vaccinated is conclusive. He said a big red flag for him is that people were being bribed to take the vaccine with lotteries, vouchers and cash payments.
“There was just this systematic bribery; that worked to a certain point, then they switched to other methods – coercion and force – the amendment to the Public Health Act.”
He said the methods being used were “disgraceful, to begin with”; then he heard about persons who died or became very ill from taking the vaccine, including two of his siblings who live overseas, who had adverse reactions.
“I was not going to be pressured to take a vaccine because someone said so or because I need my job. It is a game, it is a political stunt.”
Charles said in his opinion, there is absolutely no public health benefit to taking the COVID-19 vaccine and admits to being strongly influenced by several anti-vaccination videos he saw online, adding that he trusts what he saw in the videos more than he does politicians or even local medical personnel.
“A lot of these videos were substantiated by medical practitioners…. These are independent people who have nothing to gain who came out and put their necks on the line to let you know what was happening.”
He also claimed that he had visions in which “the spirit of God” showed him that people who had taken the vaccine and died as a result were “…just bawling, weeping and wailing that they trusted the people who told them to take the vaccine and they failed them.” In another vision he said “the spirit of God” showed him the similarity between the serpent (Satan) and the vaccine.
He acknowledged that not everyone will share his perspective, and that is okay.
The father of a six-year-old son, Charles, who holds a bachelor’s degree and has taught at both the primary and secondary level, said he will not worry, but will take it one day at a time, “I will not be preoccupied with tomorrow or where money will come from. I am not going to do it.”
Meanwhile, in a message posted on Facebook, Oswald Robinson, president of the St Vincent and the Grenadines Teachers Union (SVGTU) urged the union’s membership to be focused, strong, steadfast and to have faith as “the battle has begun”.
He said members have been submitting their letters of dismissal to the union.
It is estimated that about 250 teachers have refused to be vaccinated and of these, 195 teachers collectively sought exemptions on medical or religious grounds. Forty-five teachers sought medical exemptions and 17 exemptions were granted on religious grounds.
Robinson in his message said, “We have seen that a number of these letters continue to show a certain level of contempt for the supreme law of the land and also the Public Service regulations. So I want you to have confidence and hope. The Teachers Union is taking note of everything and we are very close to start filing in the High Court. We are reviewing the legal instruments to make sure everything is perfected and then we should be doing that file, before the end of this week.”
Robinson said when victory is had in court, everyone will benefit, even those who have not submitted their letters to the Union.
He however encouraged everyone to submit all documentation and said the Union will pursue to the highest level, their request that the Government stands liability for all adverse reactions or death as a result of the vaccination.
The SVGTU president said he is aware that some members will not receive a salary this month, which is why they are expediting the filing in order that there be a quick resolution, as livelihoods and the welfare of dependants are at stake.
He pledged to do his best, along with the Union’s executive and other structures of the SVGTU to advocate for members.
“Don’t give up my brothers and sisters, stand firm. We will win the victory and we will do so in the name of Lord, the Most High.”
He said the Union will be strategizing over the weekend and will inform of their next actions, in which they would like the participation of everyone.