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Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves speaking at the press conference on Thursday, July 28, 2022.
Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves speaking at the press conference on Thursday, July 28, 2022.
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The Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines says it is now willing to rehire public sector workers who lost their jobs last year after failing to take a COVID-19 vaccine, as required by law.

Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves made the announcement Thursday, saying that the Cabinet had on Wednesday received the advice from Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Simone Keizer-Beache.

He said that following a briefing from health officials including Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Roger Duncan, the cabinet agreed on a “new regime” which the chambers of Attorney General, Jaundy Martin, will draft into law.

“I want to make it plain that this is not reinstatement of teachers. This is not a question of an automatic reinstatement of teachers because to say it is an automatic reinstatement of teachers would be to suggest that the teachers were not legally, constitutionally out of their jobs because they did not choose to take the vaccine and follow the requirement,” Gonsalves said.

“And clearly they expressed an interest in employment as teachers. Those who had  not followed the requirement and, therefore, had abandoned their jobs under the law, they would be required to follow the conditions, including periodic testing,” the prime minister said. 

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He said vaccination and booster shots will remain a requirement for existing and new health care workers.

“But there is a principle which is applied called a layered  approach, the police, people at the Port Authority and relevant public servants defined in the regulation, for employment, the vaccine will not be required,” the prime minister said.

Instead, the regime will focus on face masks, hand sanitisation, spacing and ventilation.

“But it will have built in the system the vaccine advocacy programme, still encouraging people to take the vaccine because it is still the best defence,” Gonsalves said. 

He said that teachers and other adult staff in learning institutions will have to adhere strictly to a number of measures.

“For unvaccinated teachers and other adult staff, 100% mask, spacing between cohorts, strict cohorting — cohorting meaning if you are in the same — you all stick together,” he said.

He noted that children might mix during breaks but added that there must be strict cohorting during class time. 

The prime minister said there must be proper ventilation at education institutions as well as  a testing regime to stay on the job. 

He said that the Health Services Subcommittee of the National Emergency Management Organisation (NEMO) would determine the screening regime.

“And in this layered approach, there will be no requirement to be 100% vaccinated. Of course, we are going to encourage the vaccination and hope to get 100%.

“For those persons who …under the regulation had abandoned their jobs by not following the requirement, the new epidemiological situation has occasioned an altered regime,” Gonsalves said.

He said that those persons who are interested in employment “who had chosen to not follow the requirement … they will have to write to the Ministry of Education, they will make the announcement, to indicate whether you want to be employed for the new period and the ministry and the Chief Personnel Office make the announcement as to what period.”

The prime minister said that he suspects that the period would be short, “probably a week or thereabout. 

“I am giving an advance notice,  because the truth is this: that we have to staff the schools for the new term and we have to get on with that.”

He said that the cabinet has also agreed that for people who are employed and are unvaccinated, say in teaching, the state will pay for the first four sets of tests.

“Thereafter, it will be your responsibility. But the Health Service Subcommittee of NEMO will set out the testing regime. They are discussing it at the moment,” he said.

Gonsalves suggested that rapid testing could probably be done at schools because it would not be a large number of teachers to be tested. 

He said some teachers have said they are not willing to take a COVID-19 test as part of their employment requirement. 

“Well, if you are not going to take a test, how can you get employment? Even though the epidemiological situation is less serious now than at the time of the requirement, the making of the requirement, that we are still under a public health emergency and we still have the problem of COVID,” Gonsalves said.

He said the difference is that as of Monday, there were 10 persons hospitalised and two deaths so far this month as a result of COVID-19, compared to five deaths in June.

“So we are not out of the woods yet. But it’s sensible for some amendments to be made to the requirements and they are made within  these terms and the relevant persons responsible, the Chief Personnel Office, and the Ministry of Education the Ministry of Health, etc, will publicise these things.

“And because there is not an automatic reinstatement, the relevant public servants, teachers or the like will have to write to say, ‘We are interested in getting employment.’ And then, I don’t employ people. Employment is done by the relevant constitutional authorities. But I can say what the decision of the cabinet is in relation — having been advised by the Chief Medical Officer as required by law that there are these amendments.” 

8 replies on “PM outlines terms for rehiring unvaccinated workers”

  1. This is just evil and wrong, you fired the workers for not taking the damn vaccine, now you drop the mandate you telling them they have to reapply? I hope they realize that if they reapply then they will be hired as new employees and therefore lose all their benefits. This is just evil. This regime’s time will come and i hope the Vincentian people get rid of them. Don’t forget Camilo either, remember carrot on the stick before mandatory vaccination, blatantly calling the people animals. What has he done for East St.George since being your representative?

  2. Sandra Bynoe says:

    He is just frightened that if he opens up the can of worms all of those people will have to be offered their old jobs back with the proper compensation due. The answer will be simple, get rid of the man himself, he is worth far less than all those real people of value. I remember reading an article where a well known Vincentian writer told us if he was re-elected it would be almost impossible to remove him in the future. Now he wants to enhance the dynasty by getting rid of the Queen, replacing her I suppose with King Kamillo.
    People, you have all been shafted while sleeping and have yet to realise you are pregnant with evil.

  3. The saddest thing is that the other members of the party are just sutting by and saying nothing. We all know they are!m Ralph”s puppets but at least, have some dignity and distance you all selfe from him and his evil deeds. History will forgive you for what is already done. And next election you must stop the Ralph dynasty and send Camillo home. End Ralph plans or take what you get. Those who don’t learn from their past are doomed to repeat it.

  4. if you read the propaganda newspaper svgtimes you will think SVG is richer than Trinidad or Barbados and all is well in the country. alyo stupid set of jackasses, alyo will suffer yo whole life.

  5. Take warning says:

    How may people suffered adverse effects post vaccinatiion? How many died? How manu are still suffering ? We never heard anything from the authorities, nobody NEVER NEVER got any vaccination injury, but the people know what’s going on and they know that the people know…. Is
    this the most special country in the world with the most special set of people.

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