Posted on

Teachers Union upset over delay in settling matters


The St Vincent and the Grenadines Teachers’ Union (SVGTU) has expressed dismay over what it calls “the inordinate delay” in the resolution of two matters affecting four of its members.

In a release issued Wednesday, the SVGTU reminded that it is now five years since Elvis Daniel, Addison Thomas, Kenroy Johnson resigned {{more}}their jobs to contest the general elections of December 2010 after they were denied leave by the Public Service Commission (PSC).

The release said the members had applied to the PSC for ‘Election Leave’ in accordance with Article 16 of the Collective Bargaining Agreement.

“They were directed by the Public Service Commission to resign their teaching jobs in order to contest National Elections,” the release said.

According to Article 16 of the Agreement, “A member of the union of at least 3 years standing, shall on application, be granted leave of absence to contest national general and local elections. The leave of absence shall be no pay leave for a period not exceeding 6 months. In the event that the member is unsuccessful, that member shall return to his/her original post or one of equivalent status, all benefits intact. The resumption of duty must be the beginning of a school term.”

Daniel, Thomas and Johnson were unsuccessful at the polls.

“They reapplied for their substantive posts with the public service but the State refused to honour the terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement and as a result these three teachers were forced into unemployment,” the release said.

“The SVGTU views the response by the State as dastardly and an egregious injustice against not only the members of the Union but also against the citizens of St Vincent and the Grenadines. The State’s action sends the clear signal that citizens cannot enjoy protection under the laws of this land and cannot rely on the State’s commitment to deepening of our democracy.”

The matter was taken to court, and according to the SVGTU, it is now three years since the first court hearing.

“Another election is soon due and this matter is still stuck in the court system. The administration of justice requires that litigation moves through our courts in a timely manner otherwise justice delayed is justice denied. In the circumstances it is clear that a speedy mechanism is required to bring this matter to resolution. In the meantime, our brothers languish in the desert of uncertainty. We therefore call upon the relevant authorities to act post haste and allow these three men to return to their jobs and pay them their emoluments retroactive to five years ago.”

The Union said Otto Sam, another of its members, is also “languishing at home after he was unceremoniously dismissed from his job.”

The release stated that Sam was even given a “rather hasty transfer from the teaching profession to a job outside the sphere of his competencies.

“We considered this action on the part of the government to be precipitous and we immediately sought justice in the court. To make matters worse, after he was unilaterally transferred out of his job as a school principal, he was eventually dismissed from the job he was assigned.

“The SVGTU viewed this action as riddled with spite and punishment in response to a principled stance that Sam took while performing his task as a principal. The High Court found that this transfer was illegal and irrational. The State appealed the High Court’s decision. We now await the decision of the Court of Appeal.

“Further, the matter concerning his dismissal has been dragging on for far too long. The matter was first heard before the public service commission tribunal and then the Public Service Appeal Board. Both levels of adjudication decided that his dismissal was warranted.”

According to the SVGTU, Sam applied to have that decision reviewed.

“Similar to our fellow teachers Addison Thomas, Kenroy Johnson and Elvis Daniel, we are stuck in the slow wheels of justice and it appears that its slow grinding wheels have halted despite our best efforts.

“We are, therefore, imploring the appropriate body to quickly resolve this issue so that our colleague can return to work and continue to answer his vocation as an educator. Time is of essence: to have our dear brother, teacher, former president suffering at home is a tragedy and a national shame.

“We intend to bring these two issues to the attention of the relevant international education bodies.”