Teachers Union head resigns, but asserts that contrary statements on vaccine mandate were his ‘personal opinion’

Kimdale Mackellar has resigned his position as president of the Antigua and Barbuda Union of Teachers (A&BUT) with immediate effect.

Mackellar’s decision comes in response to accusations, made by his executive, that he misrepresented the Union’s stance on mandatory vaccination – reportedly to Prime Minister Gaston Browne.

In an October 15 correspondence to “All Members of A&BUT,” Annetta Alexander-Hunt, the Union’s general secretary, advises that the Executive had “censured the President for the comments he expressed.”  She also reiterates that the Union does not support the Government’s vaccination mandate.

In a response dated October 18, Mackellar explains to Alexander-Hunt that his statement to the contrary was his “personal opinion on the matter,” and was not intended to indicate a shift or change in the Union’s position.

In hindsight, he admits that this might not have been the best approach.  However, he adds that the assertions made by the general secretary are “patently false and misleading,” since he did not misrepresent the A&BUT.

Further, he challenges Alexander-Hunt to produce any evidence, verbal or written, that would prove he said or implied that the Union’s position on mandatory vaccination had changed.

Mackellar also believes he was “lured” into meeting with the Executive on Monday, October 11.  He says he was disappointed by this approach,  since he did not shy away from meeting with Union officials; nor has he ever shunned his duties or failed to take responsibility for any shortcomings.

Saying he has already apologized to the membership for any misunderstanding, Mackellar calls the general secretary’s letter “not only damaging,” but “disingenuous and disheartening.”

He says it leaves him “to wonder what other purpose it will serve except the severing of our professional relationship.”

In a formal letter of resignation, also dated October 18, the former president says he gave his all to the best interest of the union and its membership during his short tenure.

Mackellar notes that he was honoured and humbled to have served as head of the body, and believes he brought value to the organization.  His main focus, he says, was on improving the well-being, health and safety of the members, and bringing about tangible benefits despite the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.