Opposition Leader Godwin Friday is again calling on the government to reinstate public sector workers who were dismissed over their failure to take a COVID-19 vaccine.
“… gas prices are going up again. And this is something that we will, I’m sure, be hearing more of as we go forward, that gas prices are going to go up. Food prices are going up. … the primary concern for Vincentians now is how they’re going to make ends meet,” he said on his weekly radio programme.
The opposition leader said that the soca song that says the country is tough, and people have to “eat bread and butter” “captures the mood and the thinking and the preoccupation of most Vincentians…
“And so it’s right on point, right, on the money, and so that people are trying to figure out how in God’s name, are they going to be able to make ends meet?”
He noted that among the unemployed are the people who the government dismissed over the vaccine mandate.
“… even though you have carnival now, people jumping up and going j’ouvert and all that kind of stuff, still the government will not rehire these people who they fired improperly, in my view, wrongly, unjustifiably because the circumstances in which they did so did not warrant it,” the opposition leader said.
The government has allowed Vincymas to go ahead, with all events open to people despite their vaccination status.
The opposition leader said that countries around the world are calling back to their job people who were dismissed over the vaccine mandate.
“In St. Vincent and Grenadines, the category of frontline workers was broadened so much by the government that it pulled in a lot of people who did not fall properly within the category,” Friday said.
“And so they need to now revisit that position, give the people back their work, give them back their benefits, let them continue with their lives. They have had enough hardship.
“People have had enough hardship, because of that policy of the government. And … everywhere you hear restrictions are being removed, and people are gradually — in some places more rapidly than others — returning to life as it was before or better than when the pandemic struck.”
He said that at the same time, the Government of SVG “seemed to be stuck in gear.
“You wonder whether this is a public policy matter based on public health or just simply they have the power, and they feel like they will just do it until it pleases them to quietly change policies and call people back to work.”
Friday said people are suffering in the meantime.
“And they’re feeling it even more now because of the increase in prices and basic groceries in the stores. One day you go, and something is one price, next week, you go back and it’s gone up.”
He said that on the weekend, he went to a store in Bequia to buy an item that had been 30-something dollars initially.
“… and the gentleman who was selling me almost was apologetic” because the price had increased by over $4 the opposition leader said.
“These are big increases that people simply can’t absorb, because they don’t have similar increases in wages. And it is going to create tremendous hardship and especially for those people, who don’t have employment, for those people who the government has laid off because of the vaccine mandate.
“These are things that have to be revisited as circumstances have changed. And this is what I’m urging, I’m calling on them to do,” the opposition leader said.
Last week, Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves, commenting on his COVID-19 infection despite being vaccinated, urged dismissed teachers to take the jab so that they can return to their jobs.