Matter involving former public servants could head to Privy Council – PM
August 30, 2022
Matter involving former public servants could head to Privy Council – PM

The matter involving former public servants who were deemed to have abandoned their jobs by failing to take a COVID-19 vaccine, could reach all the way to the Privy Council in London.

The matter is now before the High Court and is set to be heard in November.

Earlier this year, the High Court ruled against granting the former public servants leave to seek judicial review of the COVID-19 vaccine mandate in St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG).

However the case of unvaccinated workers who were dismissed is still before the High Court.

Gonsalves contemplated on Sunday during an interactive radio programme that “this issue may end up at the Privy Council”.

He speculated that based on the High Court ruling, the matter may then go to the Eastern Caribbean Court of Appeal and finally, all the way to the Privy Council.

The prime minister figured that this case could take another two to three years before completion in the courts.

He suggested that whichever side loses the High Court matter will go to the Court of Appeal, and whoever wins or loses there, is likely to go to the Privy Council.

Teachers who are deemed to have abandoned their jobs by failing to comply with COVID-19 regulations last year, are now being asked to reapply for those jobs.

Both the prime minister and Education Minister, Curtis King are saying that these teachers are in a win/win situation as they can re-apply for their jobs while still continuing with the court case.

Apart from the teaching staff, Gonsalves said quality leadership in schools is very important.

And, while speaking on the programme on WE FM Gonsalves made a call to unvaccinated principals who did not reapply for their jobs.

“You can’t wait until time immemorial to give them a chance to come back, you have to appoint principals to fill those positions,”he stated.

The prime minister argued that these persons have had “a long time to make up their minds” about returning to work .

He figures that the Public Service Commission will weigh these matters when deciding whether or not to permanently fill vacant positions of principals.

He suggested that some positions may be filled permanently, depending on the recommendation from the Ministry of Education to the Public Service Commission.

Gonsalves also had a word for teachers who claim to love their students, but are choosing not to reapply for their jobs.

“Well if you love the students, come back and teach the children.

“The issue of taking a test could undermine your love?” the prime minister questioned.

He also reminded the teachers that taking back their jobs will not prevent them from continuing with the matter in court.

And he warned teachers that they are being ill advised on these matters.

“The advice which is being rendered is not advice of a legal nature,” the prime minister said, nor is it “of an educational nature.”
“It’s advice of a misguided political nature,”he claimed.

Commenting on the issue about a week ago, Gonsalves said that more than 50 teachers had then re-applied.

However, the St Vincent and the Grenadines Teachers Union (SVGTU) has rejected the government’s offer to its membership and has been mounting pickets as it calls for teachers to be reinstated with full benefits.