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Teachers’ body suffering from internal wounds

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Fri, Dec 14, 2012

Editor: The embarrassingly low turn-out of teachers at the annual teachers’ solidarity march and rally and the ineffective call for unity by the SVGTU project fundamental weaknesses within the teaching community.{{more}}

Superficial reasons such as its failure to broker a deal with the government for the reinstatement of the three unsuccessful NDP (teachers) candidates will be postulated. Yes, its ineffectual leadership, especially in pressuring the government to alter its pussyfooting stance and return to the collective bargaining table will also come to the fore. However, it does not take a Nostradamus to posit that the methodical fragmentation of the Union by the political directorate has created this malaise.

Since the turn of the century the core of the union leadership continues to be sucked into the machinery of political patronage. This has significantly weakened the effectiveness of its decision-making capacity and damaged the psyche of its membership. The contempt displayed by the Prime Minister and disrespect shown by the MOE in the stagnation of new collective bargaining are confirmations that exhaustive introspection is necessary within the SVGTU in order to regain respect. The situation is not helped by the metamorphosing of the modern teacher into a callous and self-centered professional.

Wasn’t contempt shown to the SVGTU when on the heels of unproductive wage talks the Minister of Finance legislated an 11per cent incremental wage increase? Yes, it is reflected in the fact that over two years later the final three per cent has not been paid to public servants! Additionally, teachers’ terms and conditions continue to depreciate, as will and autonomy are being replaced with cowardice and deceit. Indeed, some schools have become so understaffed that teachers are afraid to get ill, often foregoing their health in order to sustain skeletal staff. Sadly, spineless Heads are afraid to address the situation because of misguided loyalty.

Sadly, like most Vincentians, many teachers share the myopic view that they are permanently indebted to the government for scholastic favours, promotions or perks granted. Herein lies the quagmire which the teaching fraternity must honestly address, since it impedes their judgment by restricting their ability to level objective criticisms at the government for fear of reprisal. In other words, why show up central government at the risk of jeopardizing political patronage? In the meantime, teachers continue to perform mind-boggling superhuman tasks to the detriment of their health and quality holistic education.

On this backdrop, it is ambitious to conceive a vibrant teachers’ body within the immediate future. Though a necessity, the resuscitation of the SVGTU cannot be administered unless its general membership prioritizes the Union above political attachment. However, this remains a herculean task since the malaise is entrenched within the core of teaching and will therefore take an inordinate amount of time to eradicate.

In the meantime, the resounding SVGTU’s cry for solidarity will continue to reverberate throughout the state, only to be silenced by the treacherous ocean of nepotism and cronyism.

Collin CA$H Haywood

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