Our Readers' Opinions
September 28, 2007

Has the SVGTU delivered over the last 10 years?


EDITOR: As usual, a small minority of teachers and some members of the general public continue to attack the Union unfairly without knowing the facts or choose to ignore the facts for their own convenience.{{more}}

Firstly, I must publicly acknowledge the contributions of some of the Union’s former stalwarts: Michael Browne, Yvonne Francis-Gibson, Tyrone Burke, Sylvia Findlay, Cecil “Pa” Jack and Joye Browne. They set the foundation for the future development of the Union.

After analyzing the Union’s history I am emboldened to say that the Union has never delivered so many tangible benefits as it has over the last ten (10) years. The following are a summary of those benefits that accrued under our watch.

1. The maintaining of pension benefits under the consolidated fund.

2. The Union has negotiated a 30-month gratuity for all non-pensionable teachers. Prior to the 2002 Collective Agreement, teachers who were not certified but taught for more than 35 years were given a compassionate gratuity of less than $10,000. The Agreement allows these persons to retire at 60 years instead of 55 years when they will receive the pension from the NIS.

3. Negotiated duty allowance for different categories of teachers ranging from ($600 to $1000) annually.

4. Referral of teachers with alcoholic related problems to Turning Point in St. Lucia for professional counselling.

5. Successfully negotiated for the paying of all fixed line rentals in all primary schools.

6. The Union has negotiated the creating of over 150 senior qualified teachers at grade six level earning in excess of $5.5 million annually. This position brings enhanced salary and pension benefits. No other sector of the public service has created so many grade six positions.

7. Seventy eight (78) grade four posts were also negotiated for new entrants with two A-levels in priority areas like foreign languages.

8. A $60 clothing allowance was negotiated for industrial Arts, Home Economics and Physical Education Teachers.

9. Female teachers are entitled to twelve weeks maternity leave. Let me make the comparison in monetary terms. An executive officer (Grade 5) and a qualified teacher (Grade 5), both employees of the Ministry of Education, proceed on maternity leave at the same time, The executive officer will receive paid leave valued at $2,371, while the teacher will receive three months paid leave of $7,113

10. Creating posts for graduate teachers in the multi-purpose centres and the School for Children with Special needs.

11. Creating posts for graduate principals in the primary sector.

12. Regular meetings with officials of the Ministry of Education to discuss issues relevant to education and teacher welfare.

13. Contributing over $20,000 to the Grenada Teachers’ Union, following the passing of Hurricane Ivan. This was twice the amount contributed by any other unit of the Caribbean Union of Teachers.

14. The ULP Government can take the credit for the implementation of the 100% mortgage programme. However, it was the SVGTU which first forwarded the Proposal of 100% mortgages to both political parties prior to 1998 general elections.

15. The election of Sis Joy Matthews to the Caribbean Union of Teachers Executive is testimony of SVGTU’s growing regional influence.

In concluding, if this minority of teachers were to take time out to cost these benefits, they will have a better understanding of the value of Union membership. I am still concerned that the system is still being affected by absenteeism, lateness and other forms of unprofessional behaviour by a small fraction of our membership.

I just want to remind teachers that under the Collective Agreement, each member has an individual and a collective responsibility to improve productivity.

If we continue to violate the Agreement, we are not in any position to accuse the Government of violating it.

Deniston Douglas
Industrial Relation Officer.