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November 18, 2014
Teachers show solidarity with march, rally

The St Vincent and the Grenadines Teachers’ Union (SVGTU), last Friday, filled the streets of Kingstown with the sound of singing, as its members took part in its annual march and rally to commemorate the Teachers Strike of 1975.

The march and rally, held on Friday, November 14, was part of the SVG Teachers’ Union’s {{more}}week of celebrations – Solidarity Week.

President of the SVGTU Oswald Robinson said that he is proud to be leading the Union at this time – especially in light of the struggles that teachers have historically gone through.

“We continue to reflect on the past to examine the current situation, and to chart a better course for our teachers, for education and for the nation,” he asserted.

“We are in new times. We are experiencing new challenges, which are impacting on teaching and learning. It is impacting on the rights and freedom of workers. As a Union, we have to continue to take the lead!”

Robinson said that although the Union has progressed a great deal since its inception, there are still serious issues that the SVGTU is continually working on resolving. These include large class sizes, working conditions, pensions and salaries.

In particular, he criticized the fact that although the rate of inflation has increased, the average teacher’s salary has remained “stagnant”.

“This is not a time to sit back and be idle,” insisted Robinson. “We have to examine every single move that is made… We have to hold each others’ hand and march forth to victory. If we fail to do this, we would have done injustice to those who have led the struggles of 1975.”

Another issue he highlighted was the placement of individuals into teaching positions, without having received proper teacher training.

“The state must be held accountable for this. If we are going to have quality teaching, we need quality teachers!”

Robinson further called on teachers to not let partisan politics divide the efforts of the SVGTU, and lauded them for going “above and beyond the call of duty” to ensure the holistic development of the nation’s students.

Also delivering remarks at the rally was Julian Monrose, president of the St. Lucia Teachers’ Union.

Monrose spoke on issues that affect teachers, not only within the region, but also internationally – citing the disproportionate distribution of wealth globally as one such factor.

He further pointed out that with governments cutting spending on education, health and welfare, the need for unity among teachers and workers unions was never more important than now.

“The working people of the Caribbean…have a role to play,” he said. “Every time we raise our voices for the promotion of social justice, we contribute value to the international struggle for a better world.”

Monrose also stressed the importance of education to “social and economic transformation” which, if neglected, can weaken a country’s ability to compete in the world.

SVGTU treasurer Vibert Lampkin also gave brief remarks, and representatives from the SVGTU’s sister unions also delivered solidarity messages.(JSV)