Historic victory for the Teachers Union
SEARCHLIGHT welcomes the ruling of the Court of Appeal earlier this week that the three teachers who resigned their Government jobs to contest the 2010 General Elections are entitled to pension benefits and damages.
The judgement makes intriguing reading and it would be interesting to see if it is appealed by the Government.
We agree with the learned justices that these teachers were reasonable in expecting that when their union signed the Collective Agreement with the Government in 2005, Article 16 of the agreement would be upheld.
And if, as had been found in the judgment of the lower court, the Government in hindsight thought that Article 16 violated Section 26(1)(d) of the Constitution, they (the Government) had the authority and power to go to Parliament to make law which would allow teachers to be exempted from Section 26(1)(d) of the Constitution, and so be eligible to be elected or appointed to Parliament.
So, in the spirit of the Collective Agreement which they signed, the Government should have done so.
Eight years ago, SEARCHLIGHT had called on the Government to reinstate the teachers, but given that these gentlemen are now all past retirement age, it is our hope that they are paid the damages due to them and that their pension benefits are put in place without delay. Additionally, now that the appeal court has ruled, Parliament may wish to consider taking the necessary steps to make it possible for all teachers who wish to contest general elections, to be able to do so without resigning from the public service, and be assured of being reinstated should they be unsuccessful.
We congratulate the St Vincent and the Grenadines Teachers Union (SVGTU) on this historic victory and commend them on their tenacity in pushing forward with this case, despite the ruling in the lower court.