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Bassy, don’t try any cheap political tricks

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18.JAN.08

Editor: My good friend Bassy, who always supports teachers, seems to have had a mild memory lapse or simply went into over drive to give his NDP cheap political points by suggesting that I surrendered the soul of the Union to the ULP. I will not speak for Fitz Jones but I just want to point a few things out to Bassy.{{more}}

Unlike Bassy, who is hard core NDP, but pretends that it’s just Eustace he loves, Otto has explicitly, prior to my election and re-election as Union president, identified myself with the ULP. And what is wrong with party affiliation? Absolutely nothing! So although being ULP, the Union led by Otto successfully challenged the backward sections of the 2005 Education Bill by exerting real pressure on the government that I support.

Next, I ensured that the 2005 Collective Agreement was signed before the General Elections, although key officials in the Ministry with NDP leaning appeared to be sabotaging. The Union led by Otto, who is pro-ULP, stopped the MOE and government march to drastically reduce Study Leave and Vacation Leave not just for teachers but for every public servant.

Furthermore, the Otto-led union struggled for and ensured that scores of teachers received their Clothing Allowance, as agreed by government and the Union. In fact, some teachers received payments that covered a four-year period. And I must say to Bassy, this was not because the government did not want to pay, it was because the strong men in the system were apparently doing every thing possible to create unrest for a government they do not support. Bassy, I wonder if the same thing has happened with the pay cut which you yourself say is a contradiction to ULP’s policy.

The SVGTU under my leadership instituted industrial action at the Dr JP Eustace Memorial Secondary School and stood up and defended teachers left, right and centre. Indeed, in my very first press briefing I drew the lines by stating that “The Union is not an arm of the ULP, nor is it a unit of the MOE”, and I always reiterated and reinforced in my Executive’s heads that the professional interest of our members is our first priority.

Contrary to what you say Bassy, and whatever error the Executive might have made re: industrial action, they must be congratulated as a pro-ULP executive for taking a tough stance on a serious workers’ issue. Our executive, under my leadership and presently, has demonstrated that we can differentiate between party and union interest. My friend, in the recent past executive, members did not strike against their NDP party… so don’t try any cheap political shots, Bassy!

And where were you Bassy, when in 1983, the Teachers’ Union was the official ‘mouth piece’ for the NDP, making press release after press release over Radio Antilles to power J.F Mitchell, now Sir James, to power? My friend, Ecclesiastes 3:1 speaks of “To every thing there is a season” … so NDP’s season to control the leadership of the union has gone , but it will return again. What is necessary, however, is that the professional issues and the party’s interest be maturely separated as the Otto-led executive and Joy’s have demonstrated.

Interestingly, too, editor, I note comments made by the PSU chief that probably PS Francis was right that more time was needed for Re-class and she is in some ways vindicated.

I regret having to comment on this since I had given a personal commitment not to…but when hindsight is apparently people’s best or only sight, in an uniformed way then clarification is needed!

Please note again that what we now have is a pay cut! Nothing to do with re-class work being completed or not. Question is, who advised it? Who designed it? Was government properly advised by its financial wizard? What were the motives? Bassy correctly asserted that the salary cut is inconsistent with government policies, so what we need from the PSU’s boss is to question the basis, goal and or motives of this cut? Was it really designed to mash-up the town? And if so, who were the intended beneficiaries? Why would, for example, of all the National Directors only the Director of Physical Education and Sports position be down graded to grade 8? The PSU Chief instead of commenting on something of which he has very limited knowledge should ask the Minister of Finance to let his Chief Financial wizard be accountable for what transpired. Let’s hear from them!

Please note again that the former PS never did anything to advance the process. Four months before an SVGTU proposal was acknowledged, three fake meetings, hardly any agenda, direction etc.. real fight by Minister Walters to have a meeting. Same attitude and worse with the June 15th meeting. Enough said.

Burgin ought to know that the recommendations from the steering committee by and large were with the PS/Public Service since August/early September. Furthermore, the SVGTU had indicated and written to government on our position even before that. What seems to have transpired is that while we were meeting and making recommendations, someone had an apparent sinister plan. So rubbish about more time and vindicated!

The PSU boss’ Union called for the resignation of Minister Walters for making a foolish blunder. An excellent Minister of both Agriculture, Social Development, and a Minister who had enough courage to comdem ‘gay’ practice publicly. Does he now have the courage to ask for the resignation of government chief financial advisor? Noting that someone must take responsibility, but someone must also take blame. Or, could they have called for Selmon’s resignation because he is a “country boy”?

Mr Vanloo is the authority on Re-class at the PSU, and he certainly did arrive late. However, his contribution is very good. He, Denniston, Otto, Joy and SVGTU do not have to speak on hind/or blind sight.

Otto Sam

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