SVGTU calls for resumption of Collective Agreement talks
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October 23, 2012
SVGTU calls for resumption of Collective Agreement talks

The St Vincent and the Grenadines Teachers’ Union (SVGTU) has called on the Ministry of Education to “immediately resume negotiations on the Collective Agreement”.{{more}}

The Union said in a press release on Friday that it is

disappointed with the manner in which the ministry is engaging it.

The press release, signed by Public Relations Officer Vibert Lampkin, said the Union submitted its proposals for the agreement to the Ministry in October 2009 and got a response two years later.

“After just four days of discussion on the Collective Agreement in November 2011, the Ministry of Education has continually ignored the requests from the Teachers’ Union to resume the negotiations.

“This is clearly not in the best interest of either party,” the Union said, noting that it is a bona fide registered trade union in St Vincent and the Grenadines and represents the interests of all teachers in the country.

“We are therefore calling on the Ministry of Education to respect the SVGTU and immediately resume negotiations on the Collective Agreement.

“A new Collective Agreement is long over due. The current agreement was signed since 2005. It is now seven years since the last agreement was negotiated. The life of these Collective Agreements is usually two years.

“So it is unacceptable for the Ministry of Education to be stretching out the negotiations and frustrate the process and create unnecessary friction between the parties,” the release said.

And Nicole Bonadie-Baker, permanent secretary in the Ministry of Education, told SEARCHLIGHT yesterday that Ministry and Union representatives met late November to early December 2011.

The Budget Director, the Chief Personnel Officer and the Attorney General were present during the negotiations, Bonadie-Baker said.

The permanent secretary said that at the end of those initial negotiations, which covered all areas of the existing agreement, there was consensus that the Union would present the initial outcome of the discussions and negotiations to its members and submit the feedback to the Ministry of Education, after which negotiations would resume following internal review by the Ministry and its other Government partners.

“The Ministry of Education prepared minutes detailing the agreements made and submitted same to the president of the Union and all Union representatives present during the negotiations, via memorandum dated 6th December 2011,” Bonadie-Baker said.

She said in early May, 2012, the Union requested that the negotiations resume; however, the Ministry advised the Union that the promised feedback had not been forthcoming.

“This was subsequently submitted to the Ministry of Education by the Union on June 11th, 2012, six months after the initial negotiations,” Bonadie Baker said.

“The Ministry is currently reviewing the comments received from the Union and asks that similar consideration be allowed for the Ministry to carefully review the document with its Government partners to ensure that the follow-up discussions are both succinct and productive,” Bonadie-Baker said, adding that the negotiations are expected to resume before the end of the year.

The permanent secretary said that conclusion of the current process is indeed “long overdue”.

She said she understands that the Union may “no doubt have some anxiety in moving the process forward”.

She, however, expressed confidence in the “continued cordial relations” between both parties “in the interest of the nation’s teachers and more importantly in the overall improvement in the performance of students nationwide”.