Chair of the Police Welfare Association, Sergeant of Police Daniel Prescott says he believes that the court made the right decision in the vaccine mandate case and is urging the government not to appeal.
Prescott told a joint press conference of the PWA, St. Vincent and the Grenadines Teachers’ Union and the Public Service Union, that he believes Justice Henry’s decision was based on the evidence before the court.
Last week Monday, the High Court judge ruled against the government in a lawsuit that the unions brought against the government, challenging the mandate and the state’s decision to deem hundreds of workers as having abandoned their jobs after they failed to take a COVID-19 jab by December 2021.
The court said that the government’s action were constitute a breach of natural justice, contravene the Constitution, were unlawful, procedurally-improper and void.
The judge further ruled that the workers never ceased to hold their respective jobs and must be paid their salaries and other benefits.
Prescott replaced as head of the PWA, Brenton Smith, a station sergeant of police who lost his job as a police officer as a result of the vaccine mandate and was among the first six of the 265 claimants in the lawsuit.
Prescott told the press conference that he sat in his office at the Central Police Station and listened carefully as Justice Henry delivered her ruling via Zoom.
“And if you really listen carefully to her, you must realise that she studied the case well. You must realise that she did not make a decision upon feelings, based upon politics,” Prescott said.
“Her decision was strictly based upon evidence. Her decision was strictly based upon the laws of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Her decision was based upon the highest law of the land, the Constitution of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.”
The judge delivered her ruling three and a half months after the trial in late November.
Prescott said that someone had told him that the judge was taking long to give her ruling.
“And the person said it is always good. It’s better for the judge to take her time, study the case well and come back with the right decision rather than to rush it and come back with the wrong decision. And in my humble opinion, and my knowledge as a police officer, I say this without any apology, I believe that the right decision was made,” Prescott told the media conference.
He said that having listened to the decision, he was hoping that Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves “would have come to the people and say, ‘You know what? I’m sorry. We made a wrong decision. We love you. We made a wrong decision. Please forgive us as we move forward for betterment.’
“But the government decided that they are going to appeal,” Prescott said, adding that PWA has not received any concrete evidence that the government has already launched the appeal.
“But I’m not so much concerned about whether the government makes an appeal or not. Our concern is about our members,” he said.
Prescott said it would be elating if the government could “just forget about the appeal and say, ‘Workers, come back. You have suffered enough, physically, psychologically, socially, mentally, financially, you have suffered enough. Enough. So therefore, I’m asking you to return to work, get on with the business of the country.'”
Prescott said he believes that the prime minister would listen to the press conference.
“I’m hoping that after this press conference, the prime minister will have a change of heart and call you back to work,” he told the town-hall-meeting style press conference, which had a large number of affected workers in attendance.
“The thing is, I am not a pessimist. I’m optimistic and I don’t like to judge people based upon what other people say. I like to prove people for myself and as a police officer, that is how I go,” Prescott said, adding that God allows things to happen.
“Everything happens for a reason. Maybe this was to strengthen some of your faith, to boost you to get you closer to God. And it is your faith and your trust in God that that gave you the victory,” he said.