Symister says St. Vincent High Court ruling brings hope to OECS civil servants who were dismissed during vaccine mandates

The recent High Court case in which civil servants in St. Vincent & The Grenadines were victorious against their government proves that people can successfully challenge a sitting administration, says Leon Chaku Symister.

These public-sector workers – through their unions, including the Police Welfare Association, the Public Service Union and the Teachers Union – challenged the Gonsalves Administration’s COVID-19 vaccine mandates that saw many of them losing their jobs.

High Court Justice Esco Henry found that the special measures which fall under Statutory Rules and Orders, 28 of 2021 – which is the vaccine-mandate law – are unlawful,  unconstitutional and, therefore, void and of no effect.

In her ruling, the Judge said that none of the public servants who lost their jobs under the law ceased to be entitled to hold their respective positions.

She added that they are still entitled to all the benefits that were due to them, and would have become due to them, had they not been deemed to have abandoned or resigned from their jobs, as the government claimed.

Symister, an attorney-at-law, says this ruling is important to the ordinary man and woman for several reasons..

While many may be reluctant to challenge a government because it is seen as a difficult undertaking, he says this case gives hope that it can be done and that those making the challenge can have a successful outcome.

Meanwhile, Symister says this case could be precedent-setting, and it could see public servants in other countries with vaccine-mandate laws challenging their government’s decision.

This is more so for workers within the OECS, he adds.

The attorney says this ruling is a well-thought out decision by Justice Henry and could inspire others facing a similar dilemma.

The workers maintain that they were dismissed, and the Gonsalves Administration has already indicated its intent to appeal the High Court decision.