Gonsalves: Some police officers left jobs over mandatory vaccine policy
Kingstown – At least 32 police officers have either resigned or retired from the St Vincent and the Grenadines Police force, while 13 others have not taken the vaccine under the government’s mandatory programme to get frontline workers vaccinated against the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic that has killed 75 people and infected 5 645 others since March last year.
Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves, speaking on a state-owned NBC radio, said that of the estimated 1 200 officers, including the Coast Guard Service and Fire Brigade, 32 had either resigned or retired before the mandate.
He said two of these former officers would not get any money under the police pension rules as one had served for one year and another for eight years.
“All the others, most of them have served over 20 years. Some of them late 20s and a couple in the early 30s, like 31, 32. One actually served 33 years. So that person is pretty much at the end of their 33 and a third, for their maximum pension.”
Gonsalves said he suspects that some of those who had retired didn’t want to take the COVID-19 vaccine “and some of them, they would have retired in any case, because every year you’ll have a certain number of retirements and resignations.”
He said that in addition to the officers who resigned or retired, there were 13 under the aegis of the Commissioner of Police, from the rank of constable to sergeant, who did not take the vaccine and, accordingly, “would have abandoned their jobs”.
“And they’re deemed to have resigned their office because of their abandonment. One of them is a sergeant, two of them are corporals and the rest of the 13 there are constables.”
Earlier this week, Station Sergeant Brenton Smith, who is also head of the Police Welfare Association, said that the Public Service Commission had written to him, indicating that he was deemed to have resigned from his job.
Meanwhile, the St Vincent and the Grenadines Teachers’ Union (SVGTU) says it is hoping for a strong showing at its picket in Kingstown today.
“Well, that’s a very good question and a very good observation, because we know it happened, it has happened recently . . . . you can’t give up hope. The leadership of the Teachers’ Union is not daunted, we are not discouraged,” the union’s president, Oswald Robinson told a press conference.
The union plans to hold pickets in Kingstown and Union Island, and the administrative building in Canouan and Bequia. The latest action follows the strike action on Tuesday and Wednesday, which the union said has been a success.
Robinson said that Friday’s action will be a peaceful protest, adding “at the same time, we would send a clear message to the government of St Vincent and the Grenadines”.
“It’s not only teachers, because if teachers have no money for the salaries in December, it’s going to affect teachers being able to send their children to school, to provide for the rest of the family,” Robinson said.
Government has enacted legislation mandating COVID-19 vaccines for teachers and other “frontline” workers by November 19 and the ten-day grace period expired last Friday. (CMC)