Nikeisha Williams is hoping she will be the “breath of fresh air” that breathes new life into the St Vincent and the Grenadines Teachers Union (SVGTU), should its members elect her as president in the upcoming elections.
The Union’s elections are scheduled for February 22 and 23, when members will vote on candidates nominated for the positions of president and vice president.
A release from the SVGTU this week noted that these positions were the only two being contested this year, as the other candidates nominated for the other positions are unopposed.
“I have been a part of the teachers union for over 10 years. I believe that our Union, our members, have been asking for more than what is currently being offered, which is more fight and war with government bodies and so on,” Williams said in an interview with SEARCHLIGHT yesterday. “You often hear them asking questions like ‘what is the Union doing for me’? I believe as president of the Union, I have a lot to offer members apart from the usual warfare.”
The SVGTU presidential candidate is challenging current serving president, Oswald Robinson in this year’s election.
She previously served on the Union’s executive from 2018 to 2020 as the General Secretary, where she attests to witnessing the organisation develop in “leaps and bounds”.
“I want to bring that back. I want teachers to feel a part of something; to know that their union will represent whenever, wherever, however. We will also add to their well-being as human beings, as Vincentians, as citizens of this island St Vincent,” Williams told SEARCHLIGHT.
Her decision to contest this year’s elections is also due to her belief that there are “a number of things lacking in the Teachers Union”.
“For one, there is a serious lack of identity where you only hear the teachers union when we are going to court. You’re not hearing the Teachers Union involved in any cultural activities, you’re not hearing us involved in any real advancement educationally for our members, you’re not hearing the Teachers’ Union involved in sponsorship of anything,” Williams said.
She further noted that “this is a time where so many people, so many teachers are on the breadline, including myself have been dismissed because of the vaccine mandate but there are other things which can be done for teachers that are not being done”.
The 40-year-old noted that there are persons who are of the notion that a woman has no place vying for the top position in a public service union.
And she intends to disprove those claims.
Williams, an advocate for women, is currently the chair of the SVGTU’s Gender Committee.
Up until this week, she also held the position of secretary in the Status of Women Committee, an arm of the Caribbean Union of Teachers.
She believes that this election cycle presents a “golden opportunity” for a young woman to “head the leading trade union organisation in St Vincent and the Grenadines”.
“…And to look at it as though she cannot, would be a mistake that is made. I can, I will, because I have to. We can no longer keep looking back. We are a forward thinking organisation and the only way we can actually move forward is by having forward thinking persons at the helm,” Williams said.
The presidential candidate, who taught at the Buccament Bay Secondary School until she lost her job last November as a result of the government’s vaccine policy, said that it was not only time to give a younger person a try, but “a woman that is in the teaching service”.
“The other guys have left. They cannot speak on what is going on currently because they are not there. They can respond, they can say what was said, but they actually have no real evidence of what really is. It’s time to inject new blood into the teaching service, into that teachers union and I am here to be that breath of fresh air that we really need at this time…,” Williams said.