Four teachers who were dismissed under the Special Measures SR&O Act are eager and ready to resume their duties and get on with their lives.
Sheflorn Ballantyne, a former lecturer at the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Community College, Division of Technical Studies, Blondia Peters and Novita Roberts both former teachers of the Kingstown Preparatory School and Shanile Howe in an interview with ANN said that they feel vindicated following the ruling by Judge Esco Henry on 13th March, 2023.
‘Justice Henry clearly vindicated our position, that we were never legally or constitutionally obligated to take that jab in order to retain our jobs. It was a victory for our liberty of conscience and a rebuke of a tyrannical government mandate,’ Balantyne said.
Meanwhile Roberts said, ‘ …I do believe that every dismissed worker felt some level of victory with the court verdict and I can speak boldly for myself and say that I am confident that in the end we will prevail. From the very beginning this battle was never our(s) it was the Lord’s. He said vengeance is his (and) he will repay.’
On March 13, 2023 High Court Judge Esco Henry ruled that the mandate was “unlawful, unconstitutional, ultra vires, disproportionate and tainted by procedural impropriety”.
The government has since filed an appeal on the ruling by Henry.
Since their dismissal, they have all had to turn to alternative ways of supplementing their incomes.
Ballantyne and his wife – who was almost dismissed under the Special Measures SR & O Act – began their own vegan ice cream business and have been offering online classes. Roberts, Howe and Peters have been offering online tutoring online as well and have been receiving assistance from family.
However despite the alternative forms of employment and assistance, they have all stated that they have incurred some form of financial burden since their dismal.
“We couldn’t meet our major expenses. Our insurance lapsed. Our mortgage could not be paid. We couldn’t pursue some academic development. My wife who secured her Masters in Education – School Counselling with distinction a few months after dismissal still has not collected her certificate because of outstanding payments due to the institution. We just had to forego some things to keep food on our table,” Ballantyne explained.
“My dismissal has indeed caused financial hardship. Going from a two income household to a one income household is very difficult, especially with four children, the youngest is only 3 years old. With the constant rise in cost of living, we are just barely keeping up in some areas and behind in others,” Howe stated.
Howe who is the first claimant on the case brought against the government explained that she didn’t take the covid19 vaccine because she felt that no person should be forced to put something in their body that they didn’t want to.
Additionally she noted that she has a medical condition and while it does not affect her day-to-day life, she did not know if taking the vaccine would cause any further issues.
Roberts, who is listed as the second claimant on the case, said that she did her research and was not comfortable taking the vaccine since it was given emergency authorization for use.
“I listened to experts in the field and also did some research and found out the technology used in developing the vaccine was a relatively new one and no one wanted to take liability should anything go wrong; this to me was a red flag. Thirdly, the thought of taking a vaccine that hasn’t withstood the test of time scared me more than the loss of a job. Finally, I prayed about it and my conscience just would not allow me to as there wasn’t any study of long-term effects that this may cause,” she added
Ballantyne explained that he refused the covid19 jab because taking the vaccine would have meant violating his conscience and after his research he found the vaccine to be unsafe.
Peters also noted that she did not trust the science and thought that the MRNA technology could be very dangerous to a human body if the wrong person used it.
Following the ruling Ballantyne wishes that the government would ‘apologize to the people for the suffering it inflicted on its workers.”
Furthermore he sees the appeal of the ruling by the government as an extension of the suffering of public servants.
“The Government is seeking to extend the suffering of the dismissed workers by appealing the decision of the court. They have absolutely no grounds upon which to pin an appeal. They are raising issues that were not tried in the High Court. It is all the agenda of an atomized individual who insists on not admitting his gross error but is seeking out ways to vindicate his pride. How can they convince the appeal court that a worker was absent and abandoned his duty when the worker was present fulfilling his duties as he did for many years prior to the mandate? They run to the appeal court to extend our suffering,” he added.
Roberts, like Ballantyne Wishes the government would apologize for its wrongdoing and reinstate the workers and allow the country to heal and move forward.
“I would have liked that the government took its defeat like a big man,apologize for its wrong doings, reinstatement the workers and allow the country to heal and move forward. Instead of using our tax dollars to fight against the tax payers in this country.This i think is the height of disrespect and utter callousness on the part of this regime.”
Howe stated that she would have liked for the government to admit that they were wrong and make amends.
“The PM needs to realize that we live in a democracy and he cannot use the law as a weapon against citizens. The nation is tired of this mandate and all the damage it had done and would like to see it in our rear view.”
Meanwhile Peters would have liked the government to “accept that they acted outside their jurisdiction, obey the court and reinstate everyone dismissed and move forward.”
As for the next steps Ballantyne, Peters, Howe and Roberts are ready to resume their duties and have been ready to do so since the ruling.