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SVGTU on a quest to build unionists

SVGTU on a quest to build unionists
Top Left to Right: Abdon Whyte, Andrew John, Attika James, Ketty Kydd-Rhynd, Meriah Samuel, Noelene Bacchus-Young, Oswald Robinson, Samantha Browne-Cordice & Vanrick Williams

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The St Vincent and the Grenadines Teachers’ Union (SVGTU) has been encouraged to invest in its members so as to foster a new generation of trade unionists.

The union held its 21st Biennial Convention on April 30, at which the new executive, elected in February this year, was officially sworn in to serve for the next two years.

Otto Sam, a past president of the Union delivered the keynote address during the open session of the Convention, in which he elaborated on the theme “Building a new generation of trade unionists”.

“Your topic…suggests that the current or former generation is aging, becoming irrelevant, expiring and that the new generation or young teachers need nurturing and a process of investment and/or development building to successfully carry the union in this season or the next season,” he said.

Sam also said that the theme implies that there may be a genuine concern of the union’s state of readiness or of the next generation’s ability to take the union forward.

The former teacher said that the SVGTU was not alone in its quest to build a new generation of trade unionists.

In his address, Sam sought to suggest ways in which the new era of trade unionists could be developed.

He said targeted training is a critical area in which the Union can invest in the new generation, as this kind of training, whether in collective bargaining, trade union rights and responsibilities or just having a heart for workers, will better prepare the new generation.

“It must not be business as usual. It must be well sorted out, well organised and purposeful,” he said. “My own personal experience is that investment in the next generation of trade unionists pays, it works. We must invest in the new generation.”

Wendy Bynoe, the Union’s outgoing president also delivered her final address at the event.

Bynoe said it is necessary for trade unions to adapt in the ever changing world as this was a vital part of such an organisation’s survival.

“If we are unable to innovate and inspire new ideas, invite thoughtful exchange and reasoned dialogue, then we will indeed create a union in crisis. The theme selected for this year’s convention, ‘Building new generation of trade unionists’, is quite apt and instructive,” she said. “It serves as a reminder that we need to lay the foundation for a new generation of Trade Unionists who can build a progressive, dynamic and 21st century organisation.”

The outgoing president also reflected on her executive’s tenure, saying that it was “a very busy biennium for the SVGTU; one in which we answered the call to build community and foster relationships with partners and members”.

“Serving you as our members, was at the heart of everything we did during the 2018 to 2020 biennium and we worked tirelessly to ensure you benefitted,” she said.

And because of the several changes implemented under her leadership as President, she said the Union is now a more relevant and stable institution.

Bynoe reported that at the end of the biennium, the SVGTU was able to increase its membership to 1406, a 20 per cent increase on the 1137 members from 2018.

She added that after 15 years with no collective bargaining agreement, her executive was able to lead the way in negotiating a new agreement, which she said included several new and improved benefits for members.

“Apart from those, I am pleased to report that for the first time in the history of the St Vincent and the Grenadines Teachers’ Union, we have a surplus of $54,828. Our strategy has led to continued growth…” the outgoing president said.

Oswald Robinson will serve as president of the SVGTU for the next two years. He has served previously in this position on five occasions.

Andrew John and Vanrick Williams will serve as first and second vice president respectively. Ketty Kydd-Rhynd is the incoming general secretary and Meriah Samuel is the incoming treasurer.

The position of public relations officer is filled by Noelene Bacchus-Young and Abdon Whyte and Samantha Browne will serve as committee members.

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