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‘NDP launched on backs of SVG Teachers’

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Former President of the St.Vincent and the Grenadines Teachers Union Michael “Mike” Browne says the New Democratic Party (NDP) was launched on the backs of the nation’s teachers.{{more}}

Browne’s comments were made during his opening address at a panel discussion held by the Union, which outlined the impact of the 1975 teachers’ strike on St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

The forum was held at Frenches House on Monday, November 14, and was part of the calendar of activities for Teachers’ Solidarity Week, which ran from November 13 to18 under the theme ‘Rekindling the Spirit of our Forerunners.’

According to the former president, “… Looking back, we had as a union to stand up for not just teachers, but for a nation that was under the hammer that time.

“Mitchell in Bequia writing, no opposition party; so we were on our own. Joshua in government, he wife in the opposition and two ah dem sleeping in the same bed,” Browne informed.

This brought about a chuckle from the small gathering comprised of a few nurses, a few technical vocational students and a handful of teachers.

“So who is standing up for us?” Browne continued.

“We decided that the timing for the strike was not the best one for teachers as it was coming up to Christmas, and so on.

“But given the best circumstances, we were pushed to move into the strike. They tried to stop the strike…” Browne stated.

He further informed the gathering that the Union stood up for the wider society, “not just for teachers only.”

Browne also noted that he left several messages with the Teachers’ Union, and one of them was that “you are a citizen before a teacher…”

“The strike was premature, because they had to stand up for the entire nation,” he went on.

“So while we had put the five issues out front for the strike, which is to say the $750 the teachers were calling for, better wages, better conditions.

“They had a muzzle act that the Labour Party had passed. The Public Service Act that muzzled public servants from writing and speaking, and so that had to move and, of course, a collective agreement. Those were the 5 issues,” Browne outlined.

“This is why, when they return to school… and interestingly you know, I had a couple of discussions with Mitchell during the strike.”

The former president, however, said that he would not disclose what was discussed and transpired, “but the time will come when I would say it.”

“On the day they (teachers) went back to school, that’s when the NDP was launched, on the backs of teachers and the teachers’ strike, 1975 in December.

“So, when people talk about NDP, I does tell them they should really call it MBP, Mike Browne Party, because it was on the backs of the teachers, and that’s why they had to give us a collective agreement.

“They know they rode on the backs of the teachers to get into office,” said Browne, who is a former minister of government, having served under the ruling Unity Labour Party from 2001 to 2010. (AA)

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