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SVGTU – We cannot wait any longer

SVGTU – We cannot wait any longer

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The St. Vincent and the Grenadines Teachers Union (SVGTU) intends to take matters into its own hands in relation to the way forward for a new Collective Bargaining Agreement.{{more}}

This was disclosed by President of the Union Ronald Clarke during a press conference at the Union’s headquarters on Monday November 7, 2011.

Clarke stated that the Union has communicated with officials at the Ministry of Education, but so far, no discussions on the Collective Agreement have begun.

“It is not because the Union has been tardy, or we have been laid back or we have been doing nothing. We have made several attempts to have this process underway,” Clarke said, adding that to date, they are still awaiting a response from Ministry officials.

Clarke said that the Union was informed that copies of the agreement sent to the Ministry of Education were sent to the Attorney General’s Chambers and they were waiting on persons from the Ministry of Finance to look over documents before negotiations could commence.

“The SVGTU is at a point where we are saying we cannot wait any longer. We need to have concrete movement on this issue,’ Clarke said.

“We are no longer going to wait on the Ministry officials to have this thing addressed,” Clarke added.

He stated that the Union will seek the guidance of their membership on the issue and will address it during the General Meeting of the Union, scheduled for Wednesday, November 16, 2011, at the Kingstown Anglican School at 3:30 p.m.

Clarke also related the Union’s concerns about the Ministry’s implementation of certain Articles of the Collective Agreement. Highlighting Article 29, Clarke said that the Ministry has already implemented part 5 and 6 of the Article which deals with annual duty allowance and clothing allowance.

Clarke, however, stated that there is a “sticking point”.

He referred to Article 29-2 which speaks about a teacher gaining compensation when he/she is transferred to a school remote from his or her normal residence.

That section states: “Where an employee is transferred to a school or department which is remote from his normal place of residence and which entails significant travel costs or displacement of an additional $100 per month, compensation shall be granted to the employee.”

Clarke stated that in response to a letter from a member of the Union, they in turn wrote the Ministry regarding the particular Article, requesting that they address the particular problem.

Clarke added that the Ministry responded stating it was not their intention to violate the Article. However, Clarke said the issue has been ‘drawn out’.

According to Clarke, a letter dated October 10, 2011, was delivered to the Ministry on October 15. He added that the Union had requested a response within 15 days but has not yet received a response.

Clarke added that since the deadline for a response has expired, the Union has asked its attorney to look into the issue.

“…We intend to take the issue further, should the Ministry continue to drag their feet on the issue,” Clarke said.

He added that had the Ministry done what it was supposed to and signed a new collective agreement years ago, whatever issues they had regarding the Agreement would have been addressed and resolved then.

Clarke said that the Union’s current collective agreement was signed in 2005, and according to the agreement, a new collective agreement should be negotiated every two years.

“We should now be negotiating three collective agreements,” Clarke noted.

Clarke also encouraged all the teachers of the Union to attend the General Meeting to discuss the way forward.(OS)

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