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Teachers’ call for action!!!

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Tue, Nov 15. 2011

Editor: The teachers of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines call for action!!! Action to preserve the Collective Bargaining Process! Action to demand respect of the Government and its agencies for the Collective Agreement!!! Action to ensure that teachers protect and defend their pension rights, so that no abitrary action(s) by government make us worse off! Action to ensure that the teachers’ voice (the SVGTU) is heard!{{more}}

As you so aptly put it in your editorial of Friday, September 11, 2011, the Union’s Leadership needs to show commitment to the cause and make sacrifices for the goals! Mere talk will not do! The executive and members of SVGTU must read Searchlight’s Editorial of November 11, 2011. Too often we believe that those of us who urge the union’s leadership to stand up and defend the rights and benefits that our forerunners struggled for, are doing so because we have ‘issues’. But when that exceptional piece of editorial calls on the leadership to show seriousness, commitment, sacrifice to preserve the successes of the sacrifice of forerunners, no one can claim anything, but honest, intelligent and candid analysis of our present situation.

President Ron Clarke and his Executive are reminded that their privileges and rights earned were not free! They came out of sacrifice, sweat and tears! Hence, as correctly said by your editorial, we must not let it go in vain! Teachers’ Union is not an ‘old boys club’! It is a Labour Union with core responsibility to defend its cherished and hard fought for Collective Bargaining Rights and Recognition!!! This Executive and our present day teachers must make the effort and sacrifice needed to protect the Union, the profession and members’ rights! Forgo career, intentions, promotions, shake-hands, hugs and cocktails, and stand up for the union and what is right, just and fair!

In 2006, the feature speaker for the CW Prescod Memorial Lecture reminded us that ‘teacher is a verb.’ Our struggles for legitimacy, our sacrifices, our sweat, our afflictions with teargas, imprisonment and more – our very job of doing! Our Teachers’ song speaks of teachers’ calls to action! Only action can help us regain our credibility, our legitimacy and our voice! No dependence on Godfathers or mothers ever worked and never will work!!! Our leaders of the 70s, including the historic and heroic teachers’ strike were in government and Cabinet in the 80s and 90s; however, it was struggle, continuous struggles that secured Recognition and Collective Bargaining Rights from the Mitchell regime in the late 90s! Not the union’s leaders of 75 strike!

Similar to the union leadership of 1975, the former president was in government and cabinet from 2001 to 2010. However, again, it was the struggles of the teachers that fought off an attempt to virtually kill the Union with the 2005 Education bill, and the union members again that had to struggle for Reclassification! The present union’s leadership and members are therefore warned and reminded that it is our commitment to the cause, our sacrifice and our sweat that will defend the present Collective Agreement and

reinstate respect from government and the Ministry of Education for the union and teachers! We must throw away every distraction! Bury every hindrance and stand up and fight for what we know is fair, right and just!

It’s a shame how one woman, just the leader of one school stood up, faced the authorities, and the ‘yes’ girls and men, and defended not just the rules and principles that were right, just and necessary, but the future of an institution and discipline! Can’t the union emulate that, at least?

For this Teachers’ Solidarity Week, let’s commence the action! Write to the Caribbean Union of Teachers and member units asking them to condemn government’s failure to honour the present Collective Agreement and refusal to negotiate a new Agreement. Let the Union’s attorney put government on notice for legal action, ‘the testing’ of the Collective Agreement in the court. Build broad support with the public- farmers, and families have always supported the teachers, articulate on their behalf re: the present crisis. The Executive must commence picketing of the MOE and Finance Complex from Wednesday or Thursday. Let us meet you there on Friday for the March and Rally! We need to know that you are serious! Show it!!! Let teachers start wearing arm-bands. Use social media and all other media houses to build the struggle. Two days sick out! A day of protest, say every Wednesday! Executive, General Council and others picket every Thursday or Friday until government comes to its senses and treats the Union with respect! Also research the Prime Minister’s Policy Positions, articulation for Article 16, in and out of Parliament and show the dishonesty in not honouring it now, even if he signed it too!

Remember government imposed Reclassification! They imposed salary, legislating and still can’t pay us! They refuse to honour an Agreement of which they were the chief advocates, signed and touted! They refuse to negotiate a new Collective Agreement! They consistently violate the present Agreement and the MOE seldom wants to meet with the Union! Too much!!! They may attempt to play with our pension if we sit and sleep!

Let’s have action to salvage our benefits of the past and to secure our future! Every teacher must stand by his/her Union and rally for a cause that is just, fair, and reasonable! Teachers call for and to action now!!!

Otto Sam

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