January 4, 2008
Seeing Red

Teachers’ Union says trust was betrayed

The smooth start of the second term of the 2007-2008 school year hangs in a balance and will be determined by the outcome of two meetings, involving the executive body of the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Union of Teachers.{{more}}

At a press conference called by the Union at its headquarters on Wednesday, January 2nd, president of the Union Joy Matthews expressed some measure of betrayal since, according to her, the salaries teachers received last month were not what was agreed to during the reclassification exercise.

The Union, therefore, will be meeting with policy makers next Monday, January 7, followed by a meeting with the general body later that day at 4:30 p.m.

According to Matthews, teachers were clearly the largest losers in the reclassification process, while they were expecting to be the largest beneficiaries.

“As a Union, our trust was betrayed, and we feel undermined by our own policy makers. Why did you (policy makers) treat the steering committee with such disdain by completely ignoring their recommendations?”

“To make matters worse, positions that were green circled were made red circled by the powers that be. Senior Qualified Assistant Teachers were down graded two levels below what was recommended.”

Matthews revealed that in previous discussions with policy makers, it was pointed out that there were problems in attracting and retaining the right persons for the teaching profession.

She questioned if the unfair treatment meted out to teachers would encourage persons to stay in the profession, or in the country for that matter.

Also expressing his disappointment and bitterness in the final implementation was Industrial Relations Officer (retired) Denniston Douglas.

Douglas described the unfolding events as a case of ‘Billy Button wuk for nutten”; where the Union did most of the work and its members received little or no benefits.

“In 2004, when Powell made his recommendations, he recommended that the maximum salary for these group of people (Qualified Assistant Teachers) be $2900, and four years later the maximum salary that they are going to take home before taxes is $2500. Man, this is ridiculous!”

Douglas, who has been working on the reclassification process since inception, said that the outcome of Monday’s meetings will determine what happens with the school term which begins on Monday, January 7.

The meeting with policy makers takes place in the morning at Cabinet Room at 9:30.

Douglas said that the Union will be seeking the adoption of the revised Powell recommendations in its entirety at Monday’s meeting; failure may result in the membership taking some sort of action. Douglas did not indicate what form that action would take.