January 16, 2009
Lecturers expressing concerns about their transfers

“Anytime you speak about change there will be a measure of insecurity.”

This is the perspective of Audrey Scott, Chairman of the Board of Governors of the St Vincent and the Grenadines Community College (SVGCC).{{more}}

Scott was addressing concerns raised by Lecturers of the Division of Arts, Sciences and Humanities and the Division of Technical and Vocational Studies about their transfer from the public service to the SVGCC.

Some teachers, SEARCHLIGHT understands, have been expressing concern about the benefits that they are currently entitled to, wanting to make sure that if they leave the public service to go to the SVGCC that these benefits will remain in tact.

Under the SVGCC Act, teachers attached to the institutions that make up the SVGCC will no longer be under the public service, but directly under the SVGCC.

However, Scott told SEARCHLIGHT that the Lecturers’ benefits, including their pensions and study leave benefits, are safe.

According to Scott, the Lecturers don’t have to fear being worse off under the SVGCC, but in time, as the SVGCC develops, they will in fact be better off than if they were under the public service system.

“But certainly the benefits cannot decrease,” she assured.

In the latest meeting held with the Lecturers, Attorney General Judith Jones-Morgan, Chief Personnel Officer (ag) Tyrone Burke, and Director of Finance and Planning, Maurice Edwards were in attendance to answer questions and attempt to allay the fears expressed by the teachers.

The teachers are to indicate whether or not they will accept the transfer out of the public service because they cannot be forced to make the move.

Scott said that the educators who decide against being part of the new SVGCC system have been asked to agree to stay at the institutions at least until June, to give the SVGCC time to replace them.

Another problem is that the Service Commission will have to find places for these Lecturers in the public service, which Burke admitted to SEARCHLIGHT could be a sticky situation.

“I guess we will just have to find a place for them,” Burke said.

As for the St Vincent and the Grenadines Teachers’ Union, Acting President Sheldon Govia said that the Union does not see much cause for concern about the teachers’ transfer into the SVGCC.

He said that teachers are understandably concerned about their benefits and said that some of the issues may not have been made very clear to the educators.

Govia told SEARCHLIGHT that he is convinced that following last week’s meeting, where Attorney General Jones-Morgan did a good job at clearing up some issues, that things would be clearer to the concerned teachers.

He, however, said that the Union, which is represented on the board of the SVGCC, will be monitoring the operations of the SVGCC and stands ready to make representation on the behalf of teachers if the need arises.

The SVGCC is made up of the School of Nursing, the Division of Teacher Education, the Division of Technical and Vocational Education and the Division of Arts, Sciences and Humanities and became totally amalgamated on January 1, 2009.