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SVG Teachers’ Union President ousted

SVG Teachers’ Union President ousted

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Joy Matthews is out! She has been booted out from the presidency of the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Teachers’ Union (SVGTU).{{more}}

She accepts the decision of the membership, but in an exclusive interview with SEARCHLIGHT, Matthews said that she is convinced she was the victim of a well orchestrated plot to get rid of her!

At an extraordinary meeting of the Union last Tuesday, December 9, held at the Kingstown Anglican School, the membership voted (42 for and 24 against) to support the Executive’s call – and ousted Matthews.

The Executive had demanded her resignation after she attended a budget consultation with government in her capacity as General Secretary of the National Labour Congress.

The Teachers’ Union had taken a decision not to meet with government while the dispute that they have concerning the reclassification exercise was unresolved.

“I feel free. I am squeaky clean. I know I didn’t do anything wrong,” Matthews told SEARCHLIGHT.

She said that she has nothing against the membership for their decision, but suggested that what led up to that vote wasn’t honourable.

“Persons wanted me to do certain things that I wasn’t willing to do,” Matthews said.

Matthews claimed that partisan politics and personal ambitions tried to make their way into the Union’s operations and some felt that she was “too passive.”

“I am not going to say nasty things and try to demean people,” she said.

Matthews also revealed that she felt that her views could not be put out to the public.

When asked what she would have done differently, if she were not restrained, Matthews said that firstly, the matter of reclassification needed deeper examination and more steps could have been taken before the strike that the Union called.

“We needed to speak more to our membership,” she said, noting that while what was decided at meetings was in keeping with the Union’s mode of operation, greater consultation with the general membership was needed to build a proper consensus.

In October, teachers were called to strike as the Union battled with government over the adjustment of the salary bands in the R2 phase of the reclassification exercise.

While the Unions claimed that the strike action, which went on for two weeks, was a success, the general feeling was that they failed to dent government’s resolve.

During his budget presentation, Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves announced that the R2 phase, as government determined it, would be applied, while the teachers suspended their strike action.

Matthews told SEARCHLIGHT that she isn’t bitter and considers her 10 years or so of overall service to the Union a maturing and growing process.

She also said that she got an insight into how humans behave and warned those who are rejoicing at her removal that “Life has a way of playing itself out.”

Matthews said that there are those who feel threats and ranting and raving is the way Unions ought to do business, but she didn’t hold to that view, which was considered as being soft.

She said that that type of trade unionism is past, and now is the time for dialogue, tact and diplomacy, an attitude that she claims didn’t sit well with some.

She used the opportunity, however, to call on those who have supported her to commit themselves to the organization and to work hard to make sure that the Union does its job and isn’t sidetracked.

Meanwhile, acting president of the Union, Sheldon Govia, as he announced Matthews’ removal at a press conference on Wednesday, December 10th, described Matthews as a knowledgeable and experienced person and declared that the Union remains strong.

General Secretary Philbert John added that the Executive “as it stands now” is “totally unified” and is “at one.”