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Teachers’ Solidarity weak!

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Fri, Nov 18. 2011

Editor: Ever since the legendary teachers’ unrest of 1975, Teachers’ Solidarity Week has become the proverbial mirror for reflection and introspection by the membership of the St Vincent and the Grenadines Teachers’ Union (SVGTU). No doubt, the man-handling, tear-gassing and incarcerations of teaching militants by a timid and out-of-sort regime condemned it to the incinerators of national infamy.{{more}} This national tragedy is benchmarked by teachers to encapsulate a triumph of the sprit, the strengthening of ties and the forging of camaraderie. Therefore, the question must be asked: How vibrant and united is the membership of the SVGTU 36 years onwards?

The contemporary Vincentian teacher has gone through a metamorphosis that is unrecognisable to that of his predecessors three and a half decades ago. Indeed, camaraderie has dissipated since teachers have become more individualistic and less group-oriented. This is reflected in the minimal members turn-out to SVGTU’s outreach programmes and industrial actions, excluding salary hike disputes. The fact that the numbers soar whenever the whiff of money is involved clearly suggests that the common national good is not on the horizons of many Vincentian teachers.

Perched on my privileged vantage point, disunity among the ranks is a common sight as teachers manoeuvre the ladder of mobility. Unfortunately, in so doing, principles have been buried at the altar of politics as colleagues compromise integrity with political allegiance. Prevailing internal bickerings among teaching staffs further serve to debilitate the vibrancy of the SVGTU. This is compounded by the systematic emasculation of the SVGTU by the powers that be. As a result, this august body has been strangled into a state of dormancy as is painstakingly obvious in its hesitant stance regarding the case for the reinstatement of the three unsuccessful NDP candidates into the teaching fold.

Sadly, the negligible role played by the SVGTU in addressing the non-rehiring of the three teaching stalwarts indicates that the Union has failed in its mandate to champion the cause of its members. One may correctly argue that political shenanigans have thwarted the Union in its effort to effectively resolve the issue. Isn’t that the intent of the political directorate when it set about to emasculate/cripple the Union? Yes, the branches have since withered in this acrid political climate, polluted by the stagnant stench of hypocrisy. It is an indictment on all Vincentian teachers that seven months onwards, no protest action was staged in support of the aggrieved educators!

Indeed, the silence of respective PTAs speaks volumes when one ponders that these three outstanding educators must have touched numerous lives within their communities. The impassionate cry of Addison “Bash” Thomas printed last weekend unravelled the Vincentian in us – all barks and no bite. If “Bash” was loved by the parents and teachers of Park Hill, as he claimed, shouldn’t he feel betrayed that the staff and PTA were not galvanised into action and forcibly state their case for his reinstatement?

As Teachers’ Solidarity Week meanders to its pathetic close, it is vital that teachers reaffirm its commitment to nation building. We should endeavour to unite and support each other for the common good of SVG. Politics, petty and professional jealousy, cronyism and mediocrity should be condemned to the national dungeon of doom. As we join the line as teachers in this afternoon’s Solidarity March, let us purpose never again to betray our own in the name of partisan politics. Our country is much bigger than any political party!

Collin CA$H Haywood

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