President of the St Vincent and the Grenadines Teachers Union (SVGTU), Oswald Robinson has accused the government of falling short on a number of obligations including payment of an end of year allowance, and dialogue on the reinstatement of dismissed teachers.
These accusations were made last Friday, November 18, at the Teacher’s Union annual solidarity march and rally which was held under the theme: Adequate, Quality Teachers, The Foundation of a Progressive Society.
Robinson said that the government had been robbing teachers of their end of year allowance.
“We wrote the government and asked for a meeting about the dismissed teachers and they responded to us and cussed everybody.”
Robinson said that the government does not want to have any conversation about dismissed teachers because they claim that “they did not dismiss the teachers, the teachers abandoned their job”.
“We know what the authorities are trying to do; the fact that they could not come up with the money to pay some of our teachers and they think it’s a secret; that’s why they dismissed you and try to use mandatory vaccination as the scapegoat.”
The union president said the government also owes the union $58,000.
“The government must set an example. They have owed the principals $90, robbed you (the teachers) from your end of year allowance since 2010…and some of you [are] not saying anything. When I speak about it, people [are] saying, ‘same song you singing’ but…you have be to consistent.”
The Teachers Union president further said “We have raised this issue at every level, at the highest level in the land and all they telling you, ‘we know about them;’ but if you know about them, fulfil; fulfil the responsibility.”
He also claimed that there are some persons in supervisory positions…who are threatening teachers from fulfilling the responsibility to carry out the duties of the union.
“You cannot allow anybody to infringe your fundamental rights of freedom to assembly, freedom to associate. That’s in the constitution. When your union calls you out, you must come because only the union will stand up and fight for you,” Robinson told the assembled gathering at Robinson also addressed the teachers who refused to join the march which ended with the rally at the Bishops College, Kingstown.
The president upbraided his members saying “Some people, you can’t ask them to take one day, not even a half day to come to march, where are you? The executive approached the Ministry of Education for a half day; half day had been given to teachers in St. Vincent and the Grenadines to come out to march, so you should be here”.
He said the union is preparing an integrated project to link schools in SVG with other schools in the Diaspora and that the preliminary discussions have already been held.
Robinson added that the union will be hosting commemorative events for the 1975 strike over an extended period starting in January next year.
“One of the committees would produce commemorative magazines. It would bring forward some of the history of the union and it would also feature some past executive members who would have laid the foundation…”
He requested for the public to read about Yvonne Francis Gibson, president of the Union at the time of the strike, and the arrest of teachers.
He also spoke of other aspects of the history of that event including transfers to far-flung areas, including in the Grenadines, referred to in those days as ‘hard areas’. One teacher who was sent to Union Island he said, was never paid the hard area allowance.
Robinson also referred to teachers whose training at the Teachers College was brought to an abrupt end, and the frequent transfer of Mike Browne which led to his resignation from the teaching profession Robinson applauded the teachers who continue to rally around the SVGTU which will celebrate 120 years as an organisation on January 7. On July 1, 2023 the union will mark 70 years as a registered trade union.