Unvaccinated teachers who continue to turn up to work despite the government’s vaccine policy, will have nought to show for their efforts when they behold their bank accounts at the end of this month.
“…So that if you don’t take the vaccine…unless you have one of the two exemptions, unless the Public Service Commission declares otherwise, you are deemed to have abandoned your office and the office becomes vacant and you cease to be an officer. That’s the end of that. And if your office is vacant, you can’t get paid,” Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves said in an interview with SEARCHLIGHT on Sunday.
Friday December 3 was the final day for teachers and certain other public 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 and required these specific groups to take the jab or lose their jobs.
Failure to be vaccinated results in workers being deemed to be absent from duty without leave and, in keeping with public service regulations, any worker who is absent from duty without leave for 10 working days, unless declared otherwise by the Public Service Commission, shall be deemed to have resigned from their office and ceases to be an employee of the state.
However, the St Vincent and the Grenadines Teachers Union (SVGTU), in a letter to its membership urged both vaccinated and unvaccinated teachers to continue physical and online classes yesterday, Monday December 6 and Thursday, December 9.
At the same time, the Union also intends to engage in industrial action this week as it urged teachers to stay away from face to face and online classes today, December 7 and tomorrow. It also intends to stage several protests across the island on Friday.
The prime minister stressed that according to law, unvaccinated workers in the categories outlined in SR&O No 28 of 2021 (Public Health (Public Bodies Special Measures) Rules) will no longer receive a salary as they have abandoned their jobs.
Gonsalves told SEARCHLIGHT that the Chief Personnel Officer is in the process of preparing letters for persons who have been deemed to have abandoned their posts.
He added that unvaccinated workers, who missed work during the 10-day period, but eventually decided to take a COVID-19 vaccine would have their salaries docked for the days missed.
He explained that it would not have been reflected in November’s pay packet as salaries were already prepared by the time the rules came into effect.
“…whether they would take it out of their December packets, for those who continue, or take it out in January or some other time, that’s the Accountant General and Chief Personnel Officer,” Gonsalves said. “But I’m telling you what is required by the law. The Public Service Commission is the only body who can declare otherwise. But the Public Service Commission can’t go and declare otherwise, against what the law is…”
The SVGTU, in its letter to members dated December 5, advised all unvaccinated members to continue to report to work and to keep photographic records as evidence of their presence.
“If you are issued any formal communication concerning your employment status, submit a copy to the office of the SVGTU immediately,” the letter read.