Our Readers' Opinions
March 18, 2005

Sam: SVGTU was never informed

Editor: The St. Vincent and the Grenadines Teachers’ Union (SVGTU) wishes to clear the air on a misleading letter which appeared in the weeklies under the captions “SVGTU Needs To Represent The Interest Of Members”, “Teachers Mistreated” and “Hardworking Teachers Cry Injustice.”{{more}}

In her letter, the writer Dollis M. Alexander alleges that few of her colleagues have not been paid for a few months and some Principals of government assisted schools function as Principals but are paid as same nor receive the benefit Principals ought to receive. However, the SVGTU is surprised and shocked when Alexander said that “These matters have been brought to the attention of the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Teachers’ Union, which has done very little to alleviate the teachers’ plight, yet the same Union continues to take union dues each month, knowing that it does not properly represent the welfare of the membership of the Union.”

1. The SVGTU wishes to state emphatically that it has no knowledge of any teacher or teachers at the St. Joseph’s Convent Marriaqua not been paid.

2. It does not even know the names of the persons involved and the issue has never been brought to its attention. The Union finds Mrs. Alexander’s letter grossly unfair, laced with inaccuracies and very economical on the truth. In fact, when Mrs. Alexander dropped off her letter of resignation, she met the entire SVGTU Executive locked in its regular meeting. Yet Mrs. Alexander did not even draw the issue to their attention.

While the SVGTU empathises with workers who allegedly have not been paid for extended periods and believes that their cases should have been addressed it is not gain or honest to say that it had been informed and did nothing.

On the issue of individuals who function as Principals but not been paid as such, the SVGTU believes that this is the choice of these individuals to be loyal and committed to their schools and religion among other factors, and the writer is cognisant of that. For example if an individual who is a devout Catholic chooses to do the job of Principal in a board operated school with a degree in Educational Administration and is paid a QAT’s salary that is a conscious choice. The Union on a few occasions met with teachers at these schools and they firmly expressed their wish not to rock the boat. Hence, why accuse the Union of continuing its collecttion of dues when it knows that it can do little? If the truth be told by the writer, only six teachers of the Convent Marriaqua are members of SVGTU so that accusation is not only misleading but mischievous.

Indeed, about eight months ago Mrs. Alexander informally raised some concerns of teachers at assisted schools with the President and she was asked to document them.

Furthermore, prior to consultation by stakeholders on the new Collective Agreement, Alexander was again reminded to document concerns and attend meetings to address same. Nothing was done! It must be remembered that teachers in SVGTU got nothing free! Santa never dropped by teachers and it’s through struggle, sacrifice and sweat that we today enjoy the benefits of easily the most outstanding Union in St. Vincent and the Grenadines and the top Teachers’ Union in the Eastern Caribbean.

This Union has a proud history of effective representation of its membership. Just recently, Teacher II positions in Primary Schools have been secured. Several members who acted for years and didn’t receive their payment have been paid. Teachers who have been short-paid have been addressed. Teachers paying rent in Canouan are being dealt with. Teachers in charge at schools like Simon but doing the work of Principals are to be upgraded as of January 1, 2006. Even non-members get duty allowances, pension benefits and other allowances negotiated by the SVGTU.

While the SVGTU believes that the time is right to intensify or start the discussion on the Government Assisted Schools, the Union finds it very unfortunate that Mrs. Alexander could seek to prejudicially injure the reputation of this great Union by making such false accusations. Once again, SVGTU was never informed about the issue; does not know the people involved and is baffled at the erroneous, baseless and misleading letter.

Otto Sam

President SVGTU