Fuseworks Media

Court of Appeal fails to uphold the New Zealand Bill of Rights for teachers – NZTSOS

NZTSOS is disappointed that the Courts have again failed in their responsibility to uphold our New Zealand Bill of Rights. “In our recent history there has never been such an abuse of human rights that has cost so many for the sake of so little,” says NZTSOS spokesperson, Mike Shaw, “This is a loss, not only for the many dedicated education workers whose careers were prematurely terminated, but for all New Zealanders. It affirms that the government can impinge upon basic human rights with little justification.”

The Education Workers mandate originated from discussions between education officials and teacher unions, and was likely a knee-jerk response in an attempt to restore public confidence in schools. “It was a public relations exercise, not a public health exercise,” says NZTSOS chairperson Rachael Mortimer. The public health rationale was belatedly provided four days after the cabinet had already decided to proceed. In their haste, the government gave no consideration to the alternatives that were available, and the exemption criteria were unreasonably narrow. “The damage to those educators who were forced to leave schools under a black cloud should be acknowledged. The damage to educators with health issues who legitimately could not gain an exemption, but were vilified because of this, should be acknowledged. The damage to all those teachers coerced to do something against their will should be acknowledged. This is why we can not accept this ruling,” says Mortimer. Teachers were given the ultimatum of taking the vaccine or ending their careers – despite there being uncertainty about the efficacy of the vaccine in reducing transmission and a total absence of long-term safety data. “Many said at the start that this irrational mandate was never going to work. We all now know they were right,” says Mortimer. The resulting consequences of this hasty and ill-conceived action were devastating to individuals and to the education community.

“We’d like to thank our legal team from Frontline Law, members of NZTSOS and all our supporters,” says Shaw. “Now NZTSOS will be seeking advice over the next few weeks to determine if there are grounds to seek leave to appeal to the Supreme Court. For the sake of future generations, we must do everything we possibly can to ensure that the Bill of Rights is never disregarded so easily by future governments. This is far more important than a few teachers losing their jobs. This is the future of all of our democratic rights being upheld.”


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