Allow me to question the judgment of the Prime Minister to dismiss workers of the State of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, for having failed to take an experimental vaccine at a deadline he imposed.
Editor, I am a graduate teacher who has been serving my country and people for the past twenty-two years. My qualification (university degree) has allowed me to teach in primary, secondary and tertiary institutions here.
I did not take the vaccine for several reasons, among them being uncertainty about the medical risks, and also taking a stand, on principle, against being coerced and threatened with ultimatums if I did not take the vaccine.
Editor, after having received, like many others, a dismissal letter, the judgment of the Prime Minister has undoubtedly threatened many of our civil servants with economic collapse and bankruptcy. I was faithfully servicing a few loans, among them a mortgage and a car loan; the greater part of those loans is still to be paid. I supported my elderly mother with the payment of utilities and household commodities. I have a young dependent in primary school whom I care for as a single parent. All of this I was doing with my single source of income as a teacher.
Editor, these precarious conditions, with which I find myself suddenly confronted are not unique to me, and are experienced by several hundred hardworking Vincentians, many of whom supported local financial institutions and other business entities of the State, not to mention their families. This single act of judgment by the Prime Minister has set in motion a widening economic ripple, which may very well bring about an irreversible financial collapse, never before seen in the history of this country and the Caribbean. With these dismissals, is the Prime Minister not compounding the already ‘extreme poverty’ situation in this country of which he spoke publicly?
Editor, generally speaking, many of us ‘live month to month’. Now, we cannot pay our bills, service our loans or put food on the table for our families. Is the intention of the judgment of the Prime Minister to confine us to destitution, starvation and death? Is this our punishment for opting not to take the questionable vaccine until further research? Will history record the judgment of the Prime Minister as mean-spirited, vindictive and desperate? I do not know. But I am calling on Prime Minister Gonsalves, if he believes that the sustained livelihood of this nation’s citizens is much more important than an experimental vaccine, to issue an immediate return to work order for all of the State employees who were dismissed in what was categorically poor judgment.