With the 19th national elections of the St Vincent and the Grenadines Teachers Union (SVGTU) fast approaching, the SVGTU Election Committee has been set up to ensure transparency and wider participation in the upcoming elections.
SEARCHLIGHT spoke with chairperson of the committee Curtis King, who explained that elections were previously monitored by the incumbent executive, but the union decided to form the committee to ensure that the election process is free and fair.
“What the union has done is to create a committee to conduct and supervise the election, simply because the union wants the election to be fair and transparent. Before, the elections would have been under the supervision of the incumbent executive.”
King said that the members of the election committee cannot run for any position on the union’s executive while they are a member of the election committee.
“So, these are all persons with no connection to the executive, in that they are not executive members and they cannot contest in the elections for which they are functioning,” he continued.
The St Vincent Grammar School headmaster also noted that the committee will be organizing public outreach programmes in order for the candidates to garner public interest.
“Now, we have the elections spread over two days; in addition to conducting the elections, we try to encourage the candidates to promote themselves publicly, so that they could satisfy public interest, because the public has an interest in the Teachers’ Union, but more so to promote themselves and their programmes and policies.”
The election committee comprises: Curtis King – chairperson; Carlos Williams – secretary and Albert Harry, Velma Bailey, Kenneth Burgin and Dorcas Joseph serving as committee members.
Giving a brief background, King explained that the move to make the elections national was to ensure greater participation among union members.
“Why we moved to this format is because we were concerned that the conventions and before the convention, the annual general meetings, were only attracting a small number of people for a whatever reason and the most feasible method to attract a broader participation was to have the elections at a national level; that is to say wherever members are located, in terms of their work, that they would vote at such institution. So that in itself has ensured that we have had over 70 per cent of the membership voting in the national election which is just over 1,200.
“Basically the format is to attract a wider participation and since we have started having national elections, as we call them, we have a greater participation of our membership in excess of 72 per cent … of the total membership,” he further stated.
The committee’s chairperson noted that union members would be allowed to vote at their respective schools or at the union’s headquarters at McKies Hill.
“[The] Teachers’ Union elections are held at the respective workplaces of the membership, so those members who are stationed at educational institutions would vote there; those who are in different ministries would vote there, as well as the Teachers’ Union headquarters in McKies Hill. We also allow retirees who are still full members to participate, so these retirees can vote at the educational institution closest to them or they can come and vote at McKies Hill.”
King also indicated that returning officers and stewards will be placed at each branch to ensure the smooth flow of the election process.
Nominations for positions must be seconded by four members of the union and must be submitted by January 20.
Positions up for election are: president, first and second vice-president, general secretary, assistant general secretary and two committee members. National elections will be held on April 17 and 18.(CM)