The president of the SVG Teachers union is urging teachers to turn up for work despite their vaccination status and not to submit their lesson plans to the Ministry of Education.
“…our lesson plans are your intellectual property, and you have rights to your property … they can’t have your lesson plans without you,” Oswald Robinson siad in a voice recording circulated via social media on Thursday.
“They are planning to take your lesson plans and give it to other people, which means they want to reinvent slavery. In fact, your online teaching is not counted as you being at work. So we’re gonna challenge all these things…
“If you have schema work for them, and you want to carry it in, you carry it in or send it in. But we have said that everybody must show up for work, show up for work,” he said.
“Don’t be afraid; don’t get into any battle with anybody. Nobody can physically manhandle and put you off the compound. If the police comes and want to escort you off, take a picture of — document everything that is said to you or what happens for your records and for our records.”
A government policy mandating COVID-19 vaccination for wide cross section of state employees must prove they are vaccinated, if they are to remain on their jobs comes into effect today (Friday).
Unvaccinated workers who turn up to their jobs will be considered as being absent, and if they miss work for 10 consecutive days, they would be considered as having abandoned their jobs.
Robinson urged teachers not to have any conflicts with principals, adding that some principals are also members of the Teachers’ Union.
“… but I know they are trying to use the principals as the massa on the plantation. But our principals are not stupid. They have a conscience and they know their teachers have been walking with them. So they can’t change your heart overnight to get them to suppress you and trample on you,” said Robinson, a retired principal.
He said that principals, in keeping with the instruction of the Ministry of Education, may ask teachers for their COVID-19 vaccination cards.
“But all you have to say, well, that’s not part of my requirement based on when you get your appointment to go on the job…” Robinson said.
“So you have not signed any contract with anybody to say you have to produce that and if they want you to be vaccinated, ask them for the contract, that in the event you take any vaccines, what are the liability on their part? So my brothers and sisters, stay calm, stay cool, remain focused, and we are going to fight this to the end,” he said.
Robinson said that the union is in conversation with its legal advisor and will be issuing a joint press statement with “some of our allies”.
He said that school administrators did not tell their staff that many principals are unvaccinated, and that the ministry “is trying to work out some kind of exemption for them.
“So if this happens, they have to work out exemptions for everybody,” he said.
The union leader said that the ministry is “under pressure” and is, therefore, planning to zone schools.
“… the zoning may not happen now because they are trying to gather information on who is vaccinated and who is unvaccinated. Once you keep that information to yourself, they don’t know the status of teachers and, therefore, that puts them in a very bad light.
“In fact, they are trying to dictate what type of vaccines you must take. You could imagine that? They have gone so far trying to prescribe which vaccine you must take. So they have become your medical doctor now.”
He noted that there is a shortage of AstraZeneca in the country.
“So they are trying to push people to say ‘Oh, take the Pfizer or take the Sputnik.’ But whatever you take, if you have to take, that’s your choice,” Robinson said.
He said the ministry has “stolen our concept of the master teacher, which is in our collective agreement”.
iWitness News understands that under the master teacher concept, a teacher who specialises in a particular subject may teach that subject at several schools in a district.
“And that is something that came from us, which we started to discuss with the ministry years ago and it is so unquestionable now that they want to implement this on their own,” Robinson said.
“… we are monitoring everything that is done. The unilateral decision they are taking to change your working conditions. And the issue of slavery, which the work that you … have done online, they do not want to take that into consideration. So they want to pay you only because you produce a vaccination certificate, and that is so disappointing; it is ridiculous. And it’s a shame, it is a shame what they are about to do.
“We are going to win this battle, and we would will win it. And we will give glory to the Creator; this matter is ours in the hand of the Almighty. And he would break down every barrier, every obstacle, that is in our way.
“So my brothers and sisters, my encouragement to us is that we keep focused, remain united. And we are going to march on; we are not alone. The police and other workers are there, they have the same situation. . So my encouragement is that we don’t give up,” Robinson said.
As of Thursday, 51,288 doses of COVID-19 vaccines had been administered in the country, even as the government had hoped to have put 50,000 jabs into arms by last April.
Of the vaccines administered, 29,249 were second doses, and 21,500 were first doses.
The number of active cases of COVID-19 across the country was 1,243 and since March, 2020, SVG has recorded 5,359 cases of COVID-19 and 73 people have died of the illness.