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Clarke: Teachers, be ready when you are called

Clarke: Teachers, be ready when you are called


President of the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Teachers Union (SVGTU) Ronald Clarke has called on his members to prepare for action.{{more}}

Amid some heckling and jeers from past and present members of the Union, Clarke, speaking at the union’s annual solidarity rally last Friday, November 18, at Heritage Square in Kingstown, told members and supporters that the executive of the union is putting the Ministry of Education on notice, since they (the executive) are at the end of their rope when it comes to the signing of the new collective bargaining agreement and the reinstatement of three teachers, who had resigned in order to contest the 2010 general elections.

“Teachers, members of the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Teachers Union, I am calling on you now, when you go back to your schools… start mobilizing your teachers; start mobilizing your colleagues, because when you are called, we want you to be ready; we need to ensure that the Ministry is aware that we are no longer prepared to sit idly by and wait on them to sign the collective agreement.

“The issue has been raised on several occasions and up to today, all we have been getting is promises, promises, promises…. they have been taking an inordinately long time in dealing with this issue and… we need to get concrete movement on the issue.”

Referring to a new collective agreement, the president said that although teaching conditions have improved over the years, teachers are still in a struggle concerning issues that their forefathers in the profession had fought for in the past.

He said that the Union was yet to have full implementation of the 2005 collective agreement, and there are instances where some aspects were implemented and others were ignored by the Ministry of Education.

“Colleagues, we have to ensure that we pave the way for the younger teachers to come that they would have a better standard of living, because for all you know, those young teachers to come may very well be your own children, so we have to struggle for them today.”

According to Clarke, the situation surrounding the three teachers (Elvis Daniel, Addison Thomas and Kenroy Johnson) who were not rehired after they resigned to contest the 2010 General Elections, is a vexing one that needed to be addressed as soon as possible.

He said that the men went into politics, bearing in mind that they would be able to return to the classrooms, if they were unsuccessful.

“I am making a call on the government to exercise good faith on this matter.

“When you look past the legalities, they are flesh and blood just like you and me… when you deprive them of work, they feel it in their pockets… and I’ve said it time and time again that these guys need to be working.”

Clarke also stressed that teachers should not allow themselves to become bound by political constraints, which, he said, divides the membership.

“For too long, political parties have ridden on the backs of the SVGTU… so I am saying to you today that it is time for us to divorce ourselves from all political interference; let us put all politics aside, let us deal with the issue as it comes.

“If you examine the records of the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Teachers Union, for every single gain that we have made, the union had to struggle; nothing came freely, nothing came easily. It came on the sweat and toil of those who would have gone before us.

“We have to ensure that the Ministry knows that we are ready for action.”