No strike action planned, says SVGTU
May 14, 2010
No strike action planned, says SVGTU

Industrial Relations Officer of the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Teachers’ Union, Hugh Wyllie, has dispelled claims that he was instigating strike action by the union.{{more}}

Wyllie was speaking at the executive’s first press conference since being sworn in last month, concerning an issue in which teachers were displeased about the appointment of an acting Headteacher at the Argyle Government School.

“There were persons in the Ministry of Education who personalized it and said that Hugh Wyllie was calling out the teachers on strike. I just want to say that I am an employee of the Union. I do not have the authority to call the union out on any sort of industrial action nor did the union make the call for a strike.”

“One of the misconceptions that came out of our release when we threatened to take industrial action if the matter was not resolved, a number of persons construed it to mean that the union was going on strike…. Industrial action can take several forms. I am not going to disclose what form of industrial action we were going to take,” Wyllie stated.

Union president Elvis Charles informed the media that teachers at the school became disgruntled after the appointment of Verona Francois as acting headteacher, when longstanding headteacher Myrtle Jack proceeded on vacation leave about two months ago.

He said that the teachers and the union thought that the decision was unacceptable and unfair that another teacher with more seniority and experience had not been chosen.

“She (Francois) has just been a teacher, a Qualified Assistant Teacher (QAT) for two years,” Charles indicated.

“She served as a secretary at the Intermediate High School previously.”

“We were told by the officials that she is a competent person and has the ability to command the respect of the school and to exercise in a professional manner the activities at the school.”

“We are not saying that she may not be professional, but we are saying that there is one who has been a QAT for 22 years, one for 19 years, 16 years, 12 years…, so we are saying it is rather strange from that batch you cannot find someone who has the competence to run a school in the headteacher’s absence.”

According to Charles, after some dialogue, officials at the Ministry visited the school and spoke with the faculty.

Charles said that he was informed by the union steward at the school that the Ministry requested that Jack return to work in an effort to address the issue of seniority.

After this, Junior Caine was appointed thet acting principal, with Francois delegated as his deputy.

Charles said that the union is yet to receive official word on what took place.

“The Ministry of Education has not written to us telling us about what they have done, if the have settled the matter. We are just basing our action on the word of the steward.”

“I must say that we are still monitoring the situation because we want to see the whole teaching fraternity a happy bunch of teachers.”(JJ)