Sep 04, 2021 News
Kaieteur News – With support from the Upper-Demerara arm of the Guyana Teacher’s Union, scores of Linden teachers protested yesterday against the government’s mandatory vaccination policy.
The Ministry of Education has made it clear that teachers returning to work on Monday must be vaccinated. The protest action started on Thursday in front of the Region 10 Department of Education and was led by Union Representatives Ferdinand McLeod and Colis Nicholson as well as Member of Parliament Jermaine Figueira. The teachers held placards and chanted, “You lock us out, we shut it down!”, “Our teachers are not illiterate; our parents are not illiterate!” On Thursday and Friday, they gathered in front of the Department before marching through the streets of Mackenzie. They were also joined by parents and civilians who share the same sentiment that the vaccines should not be mandatory.
McLeod in his address to the teachers said, “We got to come out here in our numbers and stand, no matter what they do, if we stand as a united body, we are going to triumph over the evil, all for one, one for all.”
Union Representative, Mr. Colis Nicholson encouraged the teachers to support their colleagues who will be locked out from Monday, for failing to submit a vaccination card. “If when you go on Monday and you are vaccinated and your unvaccinated colleagues are locked out, you need to go home just like them, we have to stand in one accord, whether you are vaccinated or unvaccinated, vaccination is your choice and no one should force you to,” Nicholson said.
He said the protest is more that the vaccination issue, but other outstanding issues that have not been solved since 2016. “We still have the two percent outstanding; we still have the debunching outstanding, we still have that 2016 circular issue outstanding and there are many other issues that are outstanding that the Ministry of Education is not giving any voice to. We will continue to give them pressure as long as we can, we will continue to raise our voices in one accord,” he said to loud applause.
Meanwhile, Region 10 is expected to go on a shut down on Monday, 6th September. In a statement from the elected leaders, which includes Members of Parliament Jermaine Figueira and Devin Sears, Regional Chairman Deron Adams and Mayor and Deputy Mayor Waneka Arrindell and Wainwright Bethune, they have signaled their disapproval of the mandatory vaccination policy, among other things. To register this disapproval, the leaders have the ‘shut down’ from 06:00 hrs to 18:00 hrs. This shut down is part of a series of demonstrations that they have been involved in recently.
Last Wednesday, the leaders organised a unity march, which saw scores of residents of Region 10 protesting against the vaccination policy. In a statement, the leaders described the policy as dictatorial and discriminatory as many public servants, including healthcare workers are denied access and entry to their places of work.
The leaders also accused the government of intentionally and strategically targeting Region 10.
“Hundreds of our residents are still not in receipt of the COVID-19 vaccine, hundreds were taken off and denied public assistance, many of our farmers have been denied the cash grants to assist in their rebuilding, our pensioners are concerned about not getting their promised increase, and the denial of bonafide residents of the region access to house lots at an affordable price, to mention a few solidifies this view,” the statement claimed.
“As a result of this, the region stands resolute and united to continually reject this government’s dictatorial imposition being placed on our people and we will resist and fight against it to the hilt. We will stand firm in defense of our people until this decision that affects our people and by extension every Guyanese citizen is reconsidered.”
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