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Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves in a June 3, 2024 photo.
Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves in a June 3, 2024 photo.
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The Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines says it will amend the election law to allow teachers and some public officers to contest the polls without having to resign from the Public Service.

The announcement by Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves on Tuesday suggests that his government is finally prepared to honour the agreement it made with teachers in 2005.

Election leave for educators was part of the Collective Bargaining Agreement that Gonsalves and his Unity Labour Party government signed with the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Teachers Union 19 years ago.

However, in 2010, three teachers were forced to resign from their posts when they were denied leave to contest the election on behalf of the New Democratic Party.

The teachers, Addison “Bash” Thomas, Kenroy Johnson and Elvis Daniel have said that they had thought that they would get six months no-pay election leave under the 2005 collective agreement.

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However, when the teachers applied for election leave, the Service Commissions Department pointed them to the Constitution.

And, with Nomination Day approaching, the teacher decided to resign their post and contest the vote.

Gonsalves later said that Article 16 of the agreement, which promised election leave was “aspirational” and that the union also knew that the article was unconstitutional when it signed the agreement.

The union has denied this.

Neither of the teachers were elected to Parliament and were not rehired to the teaching service.

The teachers’ union took the matter to court, but Justice Brian Cottle threw out the case, saying it was hopeless.

However, on Jan 29, 2019, the Court of Appeal ruled that Justice Cottle had erred in his decision.

The court further held that the election leave article of the collective bargaining agreement was not unconstitutional and that the teachers — each of which had more than 30 years of service — must be paid their pensions.

The Court of Appeal ruled that “A clear and unambiguous representation was made to the appellants.”

It said Article 16 “induced a legitimate expectation of a substantial benefit. 

“It was reasonable for the appellants to rely on it. They sought to rely on it to their detriment. It was unfair for the Government to resile from giving effect to the representation, thus frustrating the expectation. Fairness and good administration required that it be justified. This has not been demonstrated.

“Even where the court finds a legitimate expectation of some benefit, it will not order the public authority to honour its promise, where to do so would be to assume the powers of the Executive.”

On Tuesday, Gonsalves, speaking at the launch of the Vincy Single Window for Trade Facilitation (VSWIFT) in Kingstown, said that he was dealing with three pieces of legislation when he returned to the Cabinet Room.

“… an amendment to the Representation of the People’s Act, to permit teachers and particular categories of public servants to run for office without requiring resignation — take leave,” said Gonsalves, who is also minister of legal affairs.

“We’re putting that in place. You have been asking for that. That’s fine with me. I don’t have any worry about this. In fact, I think it’s a good step and some say it should have happened before, but everything in its good time. As the evangelicals say, day by day, Sweet Jesus,” the prime minister said. 

7 replies on “Public servants to be allowed to contest elections, PM says”

  1. Wicked, deceptive, back against d wall, trying to make up but rejected already come next time around.

    Is it u were told… U want me to run amend dat peice?

    Or Is it your only chance now is someone from those sphere? Is it dat u now see it fit for your own gain?

    Woe beyond to u. Can’t stop d deception?

  2. Take warning says:

    He remembers that we are dust, as for mortals our days are like rust. We flourish like a flower of the field, the wind passes over it and it has gone and the place knows it no more. It’s only a matter of time , the time will come when the evil wicked mortals must must cease their troubling.

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