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Teachers march for fairness and justice

Teachers march for fairness and justice

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The teachers who attended Teachers’ Solidarity March and Rally last Friday have called for fair promotions and for their Industrial Relations officer to be paid damages awarded by the court.

The March and Rally is held every year to memorialize the 1974 teachers’ strike, at which some teachers were tear gassed and incarcerated.

However, last Friday, as a handful of teachers walked from the Peace Memorial Hall to the Bishop’s College Kingstown courtyard, their chants and placards reflected the issues that currently concern the St Vincent and the Grenadines Teachers’ Union (SVGTU) and for which they are fighting.

They chanted “Pay Otto Sam his money”, and carried placards speaking to their dissatisfaction with promotions, such as: “30 years no promotion” and “Promotion criteria gone haywire.”

Speaking at the rally, Industrial Relations and Research officer Otto Sam explained that the SVGTU cares about teachers and would not put their 1,100 members through what the Government has.

“This union cares about you. We are concerned. So, our love for you does not allow us to have you working six years without any meaningful salary increase. Our love for you does not leave us not appointing you after you have invested all of your money into your studies. Our love for you does not debar teachers who want to head to Parliament, while we leave space for our inheritance for our family and company,” Sam said.

Sam explained that notice has already been served to fight for the appointment of those teachers who were awarded graduate degrees in 2012, but did not receive their certificates until 2013.

“When you complete is when you complete. In fact, some of those who completed were appointed almost immediately. Some have senior positions that not even for them. How come you don’t want to appoint the others,” asked Sam.

The SVGTU has been calling for Sam to be paid the damages and costs he was awarded by the court in 2015 and 2016 for illegally transferring him from the South Rivers Primary School to the National Emergency Management Organization (NEMO) and also for his “improper” and “illegal” dismissal from the public service.

Reverend Adolf Davis, the featured speaker at last Friday’s rally, said when the Government and the teachers learn to listen to each other and work through their problems, there would be wonderful developmental outcomes.

Commenting on the disappointing turnout of teachers, Davis proclaimed that if the teachers do not themselves speak up about their struggles, no one else would.

“One of the questions I asked myself when I got here is that, it look like the teachers them don’t want to even represent their own voice…. If you don’t speak, how would we listen?”

Teachers’ Solidarity Week of activities, which began on November 12, included a church service, the C W Prescod Memorial Lecture, an Annual General Meeting and culminated last Saturday with a Teachers’ Fun Day at the Rawacou Salt Pond.(CB)

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