President’s Message on the 68th Anniversary of the SVGTU as a Registered Trade Union
Brothers and Sisters, warmest greetings from the National Executive and staff of the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Teachers’ Union (SVGTU). Today, 1st July, 2020, marks 68 years as a significant milestone since the SVGTU became a registered Trade Union. On July 1, 1952, 19 years after trade unions became legal and 17 years after the heroic 1935 People’s uprising, the St. Vincent Teachers’ Association (SVTA) as it was called, obtained Trade Union status under the 1950 Trade Union and Trade Disputes Ordinance. The Teachers’ Union since 1952 continues to struggle for socio-economic justice for its members. Some of the struggles of the past took place in 1956, 1961, 1975, 1989, 2007 and 2015.
In 1967 the Teachers’ Union changed its rules. The organization changed its name to the St Vincent Union of Teachers (SVUT). On the silver anniversary of the SVUT, in 1977 the organization again revised its rules to meet the needs of the changing society. In 1992 a third revision of the Union’s rules was achieved. These revisions of the Union’s constitution were strategically made in order to empower teachers, to make the Union more democratic and to enhance the Union’s capacity to respond in the changing society. Some years later the name of the organization was changed to the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Teachers’ Union (SVGTU). Our motto is: Hand in Hand, United we Stand.
The achievements of the SVGTU since its conception have been tremendous. Today the SVGTU has owned its own headquarters at Mc Kies Hill. We gave birth to the St. Vincent Teachers Cooperative Credit Union Ltd, which is one of the leading financial institutions throughout the region. The Union has strengthened its relationships with trade unions locally, regionally, and internationally. The SVGTU continued its Professional Development Training of teachers in its quest for quality education. It was the Teachers’ Union that pioneered National Adult and Continuing Education in order to reduce and eliminate illiteracy.
The continued provision of Trade Union Education for our members is a demonstration of our commitment to Trade Unionism. We have continued to monitor and advocate for the protection of fundamental human rights. Similarly, the SVGTU continues to fight against all forms of violence abuse and discrimination. The Teachers’ Union continues to monitor and to defend all benefits in our Collective Agreement and is making all the necessary preparations to bargain for greater benefits for our members.
Today we are proud of our Critical Illness Medical Plan which was launched over ten years.
We continue each year to provide the C.W. Prescod Memorial Scholarships to the children of our members who have excelled in the Caribbean Primary Exit Examination (CPEA). This year based on the performance of three of our beneficiaries of this scholarship, their sponsorship will be extended to support their education at the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Community College.
This year we would pay tribute to teachers who have upheld the banner of the SVGTU over the years. Similarly, we would feature those of our members who have successfully achieved Doctoral Degrees. The SVGTU continues to commemorate the historic strikes of 1975 and this year the Industrial Relations Committee has already been commissioned to initiate plans for this significant event.
We salute the founding fathers and mothers of this great organization. We applaud all efforts from those who continue to encourage and support the SVGTU. We welcome more teachers to become a member of this outstanding organization. Let us all be united and speak in unison as we reflect and chart our way forward for a stronger SVGTU.
Long live the SVGTU! Long live the Teachers of SVGTU.
God bless everyone as we celebrate this significant milestone of our Union.