Whether or not there will be an appeal of a High Court judgement that allows dismissed government workers to sue the government, will be determined by the Attorney General.
This is according to Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves who, last week Friday, in response to a question about whether his government would appeal the judgement, said inter alia, “… when the Attorney General’s chambers … read the judgment itself, they may decide whether or not they appeal particular aspects of judgment, because it was a mixed judgment.”
The day before Gonsalves’ response, Justice Esco Henry had turned down permission for a judicial review of the COVID-19 vaccine mandate, but ruled that the case of workers who were fired for not being vaccinated will still be considered by the court.
The Lady Justice ruled that the court should hear the case by former government workers, who were dismissed for abandoning their posts, even though the law under which they were fired deemed them absent if they attended work while being unvaccinated against COVID-19.
Former primary-school teachers Shanile Howe and Novita Roberts; Cavet Thomas, a former senior customs officer; Alfonzo Lyttle, a former assistant supervisor employed with the Customs and Excise Department; Brenton Smith, a former station sergeant of police; and Sylvorne Olliver, a former corporal of police, brought the lawsuit against the government.
The SVG Teachers Union, Public Service Union (PSU), and Police Welfare Association (PWA) sponsored the lawsuits.
However, the court ruled that they were not competent to bring a suit in their own names in the proceedings. The ruling struck out those three bodies and the attorney general as parties to this part of the proceedings, specifically the application for leave to seek judicial review.
In essence the decision by the Judge extended to giving permission for the court to review the legality of the Minister of Health’s decision to make Rule 8 (1) and (2) of SR&O No. 28 of 2022, commonly referred to as the vaccine mandate.
Regulation 8 (1) provides that an unvaccinated employee must not enter the workplace and is to be treated as being absent from duty without leave.