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Reinstating teachers not my responsibility – Gonsalves

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Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves said he will not be getting involved in the issue concerning the reinstatement of three teachers who resigned from the Public Service to contest the December 2010 General Elections for the New Democratic Party (NDP).{{more}}

Addressing Unity Labour Party (ULP) supporters at a rally held at Rabacca on Sunday, March 27, to mark the Party’s 10th anniversary in Government, Gonsalves said: “I am not involved… I can’t go above the Constitution…. As far as Ralph Gonsalves, Prime Minister, is concerned, I’m not lifting a finger to help because it is not within my power to lift a finger to help, neither am I lifting a finger to hinder, because it is not within my power.”

The Prime Minister revealed that in a conversation with Opposition Leader Arnhim Eustace, on the matter of teachers Addison Thomas, Elvis Daniel and Kenneth Johnson, Eustace was told that he, Gonsalves, was not the person the Opposition Leader should write concerning the men’s re-employment with the Ministry of Education.

According to the Prime Minister, under the Constitution, the Public Service Commission has the sole authority to employ teachers or any other public servant, with the exception of Permanent Secretaries.

“All the time Eustace says to me the Prime Minister must not interfere… and I agree with him,” said Gonsalves.

“You resign, you lost. You had to resign because that’s what the Constitution says. You want to get back your job, you reapply and when you reapply, it depends on whether there is any vacancy and that will go through the public servants in the Ministry of Education and then to the Public Service Commission,” Gonsalves explained.

He added that the teachers had campaigned against the proposed new constitution in the November 25th, 2009 referendum, which had in it a provision for teachers to be reinstated automatically, should they contest a General Elections and lose.

The Prime Minister pointed out that the teachers were unaware that they had to resign when throwing their hats into the election ring.

He said that he had informed his candidate Elvis Charles, who contested and lost the Central Kingstown seat last year, that if he did not win he could not get him back his teaching job.

“And when he lost, I said to him ‘Remember I can’t get you back your job as a teacher, but I can get you back a job as a Senator, because I have something to do with that.’

“What I have to do with, which is within my power, I do. What I don’t have the power to do, I don’t.

“If they get back their jobs, it has nothing to do with me. If they don’t get back their jobs it has nothing to do with me. All I’m doing is following the law of the land; I want to make that absolutely clear,” said Gonsalves.