St Vincent Teachers’ Union Warns Of ‘Radical Action’ If Dismissed Teachers Not Reinstated

(CMC) – St Vincent and the Grenadines Teachers’ Union (SVGTU) has warned it will embark on “radical action” if teachers fired from their jobs last December over the coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine mandate are not reinstated within two weeks.

Speaking on a radio programme, the SVGTU president, Oswald Robinson, said that the position of the union remains the same and that the teachers should be re-instated.

Earlier, Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves, speaking on another radio programme, said his government would consider rehiring the teachers if there is no surge in COVID-19 cases this week, following last week’s conclusion of Vincymas, the first carnival celebration in the country since 2019.

But Gonsalves, who himself tested positive for the virus that has killed 114 and infected 9,083 others since March 2020, said that other issues, including the response of vaccinated teachers, parents of students and the advice of the chief medical officer and other government authorities would have to be taken into consideration.

“Our position is that the teachers must be reinstated,” Robinson said, adding there is a fundamental difference between re-hiring and reinstating a teacher, noting that rehiring means that the teacher is starting afresh and this would affect their pension and gratuity benefits.

“I didn’t listen to him on radio but I know he was going to go on the radio to speak because I, as president of the Teachers’ Union, had a conversation with the prime minister Wednesday night and I articulated the union’s position on this matter,” Robinson said.

“I drew the reference to carnival. He raised the issue, the nonsensical issue, about parents have to decide. He also said that there are teachers in the classroom who are vaccinated they will have to decide. Who is the employer, the parents aor the vaccinated teachers?” Robinson questioned.

“So I dismissed that nonsense that he told me and I said to him, ‘The position of the Teachers’ Union is that the teachers must be reinstated and you need to do it and do it quickly’,” the union president added.

Robinson said that the union is concerned about quality education and wants the nation’s children to get the best.

Last Friday, the Barbados-based US Embassy announced the delivery of nearly 4,800 children’s doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to St Vincent and the Grenadines and the Ministry of Health said that the paediatric vaccines will be available across the country as of Monday.