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Challenges still ahead says SVGTU Executive

Challenges still ahead says SVGTU Executive

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As if 2008 were not hectic enough for the membership and Executive of the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Teachers’ Union (SVGTU), acting President Sheldon Govia indicated at a press conference on Wednesday that new challenges are certain to join the old ones.{{more}}

Govia, along with other members of the Union’s Executive, pointed out that the reclassification struggle which started about one year ago was far from over, and work on the issue was still ongoing despite an apparent silence.

General Secretary Philbert John, addressing the media gathered at the Union’s headquarters at McKies Hill, said that the reclassification issue was not yet settled, and that his Union and the Public Service Union (PSU) were exploring different means besides confrontation and agitation.

“The SVGTU is in the process of sending a letter to the Governor General Sir Frederick Ballantyne, requesting him to enact CAP 153, which empowers him to set up an arbitration panel to look into the matter.”

According to John, CAP 153 (The Trade Dispute, Arbitration and Enquiries Act), which was enacted in 1941, gives the Governor General the authority to call on a board of enquiry to mandate arbitration between the Unions and the Government.

John said that the Unions will accept any finding made by these bodies, providing the panels are acceptable and the process is fair.

“Hopefully the Governor General will see it fit to respond positively to our letter. The government has no interest in reclassification. As far as they are concerned the case is closed.”

“This is now a matter of principle. We are going to the fullest extent of the Law to have this matter resolved,” John stated.

Executive members lamented that the reclassification issue which had them tied up for most part of the year had taken a toll on other projects that the Union should have focused on.

Public Relations Officer Vibert Lampkin, while outlining some of the Union’s plans for 2009, said that they intended to fulfill as many items on the agenda as possible, and called for commitment from members and the public to give full support for the completion of the events.

Some of these events include continuing branch visits, symposiums on job evaluation, reclassification and violence and antisocial problems in schools.

The Caribbean Union of Teachers-organized Les Harris cricket competition is also scheduled to take place here this year, along with other orientation exercises and workshops.

This month, the Union debuts its weekly radio programme ‘Teacher 2 Teacher’, a one hour interactive special, aired on WE FM starting at 6:30pm.

Acting President Govia, during his contribution to the press conference, elaborated on some of the issues that make up the ongoing reclassification struggle and called on the membership of the Union to support the Executive.

“Colleagues, we have to stand united. Do not allow your political opinion to separate you from the Union. SVGTU is not a political party. We have no interest in forcing government out of office. We represent teachers of different political opinion.”

“We have to be a united force to achieve any benefits. We cannot fight a battle without soldiers, neither can we fight a battle divided. Remember our motto- Hand in Hand United We stand.”(JJ)

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