Right all wrongs
Even before the Unity Labour Party (ULP) has properly begun its fifth term in office, some concerned citizens are asking them to “right all wrongs.”
“This is a stand for democracy. We have been under the ULP administration for four terms and there are things that they have done that they need to right before they can sit comfortably in a fifth term,” educator Adrianna King stated via a Facebook live yesterday afternoon, after 4 pm.
King, who with a handful of other people mounted a short protest outside of the financial complex said: “This is not about elections as some people would want to put it, this is about standing up for good governance. They are there, they are in charge of the country and they need to get their things right that they have not got right for four terms.”
The educator, who hoped to be a candidate for the New Democratic Party (NDP) in East St George in the November 5 general elections, took to the streets with some others to express their views.
Her placard read, “Ralph right your wrongs”, while another asked “Right all wrongs.”
“Our hospital is in a mess, our roads are in a mess, people are afraid to speak out against anything in this country,” she said, clarifying that what they are taking a stand for is democracy.
King stated that the country has to move forward as one, but it also has to have wrongs righted.
“…Those persons who have been victimized by the Government, those persons who have been awarded compensation from the court, and they have been ignored by the Government. We have to ask for those things to go right,” she submitted.
In attendance at the protest was Addison Thomas, one of the teachers who resigned to contest general elections in 2010 on a New Democratic Party ticket.
He was forced to resign despite article 16 of the 2005 Collective Bargaining Agreement between the Government and the Teachers’ Union which states “a member of the Union of at least three years standing shall, on application, be granted leave-of-absence to contest national/general/local election. The leave of absence shall be no pay leave for a period not exceeding six months. In the event that the member is unsuccessful, that member shall return to his/her original post or one of the equivalent status, all benefits intact.”
Thomas was unsuccessful in his bid to be elected, but was not rehired by the State. The matter was taken to court and in January 2019, the Court of Appeal ruled in favour of Thomas, and two other teachers against the state, that this Agreement was constitutional.
The Justices came to the conclusion that article 16 of the Collective Agreement does not violate section 26(1)(d) of the Constitution; there was a legitimate expectation created that they would be reinstated after contesting the elections according to the agreement, and they had been deprived of their fundamental right to property.
One man joining King in her peaceful protest expressed, “We ain fighting you down for power, once you do right for everybody that good. So just do what you hah to do jed, come on, nah man, come on.”
“…The court said that they must be compensated then they must be compensated,” he indicated. Two teachers who have reached retirement age have not received their pension, according to the Teachers’ Union, despite the ruling of the court.
“Take me stupid advice. One: go and clear your name, two: act like if you’re the Prime Minister of St Vincent and not ULP. I go leave you there for now,” the man also said.
King added, “That’s why we are here, to demand that this fifth term be far different, and far better than any other before it. But for that to happen some cleaning up has to be done, and the cleaning up starts with righting the wrongs, see there, that’s how it starts. Righting the wrongs, that’s the first thing.”
Luzette King, a political activist who states that she is an activist for social justice, informed that she was joining the protest to assist Adrianna in asking the Prime Minister to right all wrongs before he starts “anything.”
“He has to right the wrong of Shevern Lewis-John who they made, who had to resign in order to contest the election and that is wrong,” she explained.
Lewis-John, formerly a teacher at the Sandy Bay Secondary School, resigned in order to contest elections for the NDP as a candidate in North Windward, after she was sent a letter directing her to the section of the Constitution that says that no person shall be qualified to be elected or appointed as a representative if he holds or is acting in any public office. This is in spite of the court ruling in the very similar case of the three teachers who contested in 2010.
Lewis-John has not publicly indicated whether she wishes to return to the teaching service considering the results of the general elections last Thursday. A first timer, Lewis-John lost to veteran Montgomery Daniel by 69 votes.
“She should not have been made to resign. Then you have the other three teachers for whom the court made a judgment made in favour of them from that same agreement. They’re still waiting,” the activist stated.
“This regime has habitually and routinely ignored the court, they are in contempt of court at every level,” she claimed. She named headteacher Otto Sam, businessman Leon ‘Bigger Biggs’ Samuel, Lewis-John, businessman Marcus DeFreitas, and Dr Wayne Murray as persons who they were standing for.
In response to a question on the subject, the activist informed that the protest is not affiliated with the NDP.
“I’d like you to print this: one does not have to be an NDP to see the atrocities in this country, the atrocities raged against women.”