An educator is lamenting her dismissal for not taking a COVID-19 vaccine, months after working at four emergency shelters, “without any protection”, during the height of the pandemic.
Luevene John-Liverpool told iWitness News that since being dismissed from her job last December, she is behind on her mortgages and other commitments, but is relying on her faith in God.
Speaking on the protest line in Kingstown, on Thursday, John-Liverpool she anticipates full reinstatement and payment for the months that she has been off the job.
She told iWitness News that she was protesting because she was given a letter saying she had resigned her job, but that was not the case.
“I’m here because I need the government to understand that whatever they did, initially, was wrong and it should be taken back,” said John-Liverpool, who had been an educator for “close to 30 years”.
She said the prime minister “needs to apologise and to reinstate and reimburse for all the damages — psychologically, physically and otherwise, that he … caused on all the teachers who he [gave] letters stating that they … resigned”.
The educator said she opted not to take a COVID-19 vaccine because doing so goes “against my conscience, my religious belief that my body belongs to God, and I really did not want to put anything into my body that would actually go against my conscience.
“… And from all the knowledge I … received, I did my research and I realised that this was not going to go down well with me, in terms of my belief, and my physical health as well.”
She said that since losing her job, it has been “very challenging.
“I know I have mortgages; I have other expenses that I am working with, they are behind, but God has been good to me in spite of everything. It has been a struggle for me. But I want to thank God for the union behind us and all the persons who have been rallying and giving us support from time to time. They have been our inspiration; my inspiration especially.”
John-Liverpool told iWitness News she regards as “an insult” the government’s invitation for dismissed teachers to reapply for employment.
“Because in the first place, we never resigned our positions, we never abandoned our jobs…” she said, adding that she was on the job up to the very day she received the letter saying she had abandoned her post.
“I wrote a letter to the chief personnel officer at Service Commissions and I let her know, I am writing in response to the letter that I received and I have never resigned my position and have not abandoned my job.
John-Liverpool said that in the year she would be fired, she worked at four emergency shelters during the eruption of La Soufriere and did so “without any protection during the time of COVID”.
“… I had to deal with four schools! Four schools! And at the end of it, before December came in, I received a letter that I had abandoned my job, so I don’t know how that could ever be possible,” she told iWitness News.
She said that although she is unvaccinated, she has never contracted COVID.
“… and I don’t believe in mask-wearing either because for me, it’s not healthy,” she said, adding that she would wear a mask in a crowd or in situations where she has to.
John-Liverpool told iWitness News she believes it is safe for her to be in the classroom although she is unvaccinated.
“I have natural immunity. I believe that my immunity would stand for me. My God-given immunity will speak for me,” she said.