Dismissed teachers say they doubt ruling will be overturned
Educator Jeanell James (fourth from left), sharing with other teachers what transpired during the meeting she had with the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education Myccle Burke.
March 17, 2023

Dismissed teachers say they doubt ruling will be overturned

Several teachers said on Thursday that they do not think that Justice Esco Henry’s ruling on SR&O No. 28 of 2021 – The Public Health (Public bodies Special Measures) Rules will be overturned on appeal.

On Monday, March 13, Justice Henry ruled in favour of the claimants in the matter in which former public servants sought judicial review of the decision by the Government to terminate them because of their refusal to take a Covid-19 vaccine.

Via Zoom, the Judge said the Public Service Commission, Police Service Commission and the Commissioner of Police misdirected themselves and acted unlawfully and all letters issued to the claimants violated the Constitution.

This includes letters issued by the St Vincent and the Grenadines Community College, and Justice Henry said in her ruling that the decisions of the Public Service Commission, Police Service Commission and the Commissioner of Police were a breach of natural justice, unlawful, procedurally improper and void.

After the ruling, the various unions encouraged their members to return to work as the court ruled that none of the claimants had ceased to hold the public offices to which they had been appointed and held at the relevant times.

Several teachers returned to the schools where they were last assigned and were told to go to the Ministry of Education. On arrival at the ministry some of them met with permanent secretary, Myccle Burke.

“The problem is not that teachers were against putting things in place but is how you do it … is how you go about doing it … you don’t break the law to do it …,” a female teacher waiting to see the permanent secretary commented while in a conversation with journalist, Lyf Compton.

None of the teachers approached agreed to do an interview with SEARCHLIGHT.

“Now we know people are dying, people are sick, you think they should still come with this thing…?” another female teacher queried.

Several of them also expressed confidence that Justice Henry’s ruling is in line with their principles and beliefs and the decision will be upheld on appeal.

“We never lost in the first place. We knew our rights,” another teacher said.

One of the dismissed workers added that the government had all right to put things in place “but should have never done something like this” as other islands had similar issues but never resorted to dismissing workers.

They say they are hoping that the government adheres to the ruling which also says that the dismissed government workers remain entitled to full pay and all benefits due and payable to them, including pensions.

“Old me, I supposed to be home and retired so you think it is fair that they took away everything? You think that is right?,” asked a former teacher of the Girls’ High School (GHS) who is looking to resume teaching.

“If they want to fire you, fire you, but give you what is due … they don’t want you in the classroom again … pay you for all your years,” was another comment.

Justice Henry ruled also that the crown is liable to the claimants for any damages including interest of six per cent per annum.

Educator, Jeanell James who met with Burke said she asked the permanent secretary several questions but he was not able to give a clear position on what happens next in relation to the ruling.

“What is even more unreasonable is that a ruling was made and Section Six (a) of the ruling says, it is further declared that none of the claimants ceased to be entitled to hold their respective offices … so this section is clearly stating that none of us ceased to be whatever the position was …,” James said.