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Schoolteachers here have indicated that they intend to take strike action indefinitely, beginning Monday, October 13th.{{more}}

About 300 members of the St Vincent and the Grenadines Teachers’ Union gave this mandate to their Executive on Wednesday, October 8th, at a meeting held at the Kingstown Anglican School.

After months of negotiations with government over the adjustment to the mid-point of the salary scales for the implementation of the R-2 phase of the reclassification exercise, the Union strongly rejected government’s final offer of a 7 per cent adjustment.

Following a meeting on Monday, September 29, Teachers’ Union president Joy Matthews received a letter on October 2 signed by Permanent Secretary in the Prime Minister’s Office Godfred Pompey informing the Union of Cabinet’s decision.

“We want to be cognizant of the current economic chaos in the United States and the United Kingdom,” the letter states.

Pompey called on teachers to be reasonable and assured them of Government’s desire to commence discussions for salary increases for the next two to three years.

Pompey further noted that the reclassification process will cost the government EC$13 million, “which is substantial, since other critical sectors must be serviced.”

Pompey said that while government noted the Union’s compromise from their initial 13 per cent increase at the midpoint of the salary scales to 10 per cent, the government, however, felt that government’s move up from six to seven percent is “reasonable and affordable.”


This was the clear response to the government’s proposal.

While there was a sprinkling of persons who were not convinced that industrial action was the best way forward, the majority was clearly in favour of taking the fight to the government.

The decision was that a letter was to be sent to the government yesterday (Thursday) indicating that the government’s offer was rejected and industrial action will commence from Monday, October 13 – “Black Monday,” one riled up teacher shouted.

Teachers were adamant that nothing less than 10 per cent should be accepted, and many were adamant that the time for talk was over, and action is now necessary.

The meeting ended with former president Otto Sam leading the teachers in singing “We shall overcome.”

When SEARCHLIGHT spoke to Matthews after the intense and sometimes emotional meeting, she simply said that the will of the teachers has been made clear.

One person who is clearly disappointed about what is on the horizon is the Chief Education Officer, Susan Dougan.

“It is important to look and consider how much is being spent on Education… We have to consider what it is we really want,” Dougan told SEARCHLIGHT late Wednesday evening.

Dougan said that the best option is always dialogue, and it is important to remember that St Vincent and the Grenadines is not a wealthy country.

She said that the Ministry of Education will have to put the necessary contingency plans in place to deal with the effects of the looming industrial action. (KJ)