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Teachers agree to retroactive raise

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22.Jan.10

Editor: In 2008, the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Teachers’ Union refused to enter negotiation for salary increases. The government decided to offer a 12 percent salary increase – 4% in 2009, 5% in 2010 and 3% in 2011.{{more}}

During a discussion with representatives from PSU, Police, Nurses, Doctors and Teachers’ Union on 8th January, 2010, the Minister of Finance and Prime Minister Hon Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, explained the economic circumstances of the country to us. He stated that the government is committed to paying $41 million into the new company to save the British American Insurance, resulting in the government’s inability to pay the 5% salary increase in January as promised. He suggested a 3% increase in January and the other 2 % in June, retroactive to January.

The SVGTU representatives and the other representatives present at the meeting agreed with the suggestion. Police and PSU representatives stated that they would have to discuss the suggestion with their members. As leaders we have to make decisions that will not negatively affect our workers. Having a 3% increase in January and 2% in June retroactive to January will not reduce workers’ salary. This was not a salary negotiation with government; it was not a matter of accepting or rejecting. The SVGTU executive members at the meeting felt that there was no need to take it to our membership, since we did not negotiate for this increase. We look forward to the 2% increase in June, 2010, which we have agreed to.

The leadership of the SVGTU has been successful in having the position of Graduate teachers in the Primary Schools. According to the Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Hon. Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, 65 such positions will be available this year. This will include 9 in early childhood education. We also achieved about a 95% appointment of Qualified Assistance Teachers; some graduated from the Teachers’ College last year. Some of our teachers who did a Certificate Programme will also be promoted to the position of Senior Qualified Assistant Teacher (SQAT). The executive of the SVGTU is appreciative of these achievements. We are asking teachers to be persistent in educating our nation’s children.

During our meeting with the Prime Minister, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance was asked to make the necessary arrangement for a meeting to discuss the SVGTU new collective agreement and the completion of the reclassification. We await the meeting. The executive of the SVGTU will continue to represent the interest of teachers.

Sheldon Govia

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