KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent – The opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) has described as “one of the pathetic displays of ULP incompetence and idiocy”, the statement by Housing Minister Clayton Burgin, who on Sunday reiterated that the three teachers who contested elections for the NDP last year should not be reemployed.
“This callous insensitive viewpoint held by Minister Burgin falls right in line with other statements made by ULP Ministers and must be condemned in the strongest terms,” the NDP said in a statement on Tuesday.
Burgin said at a Unity Labour Party (ULP) rally in Biabou that the NDP was not concerned about the teachers and asked why should he or the ULP be concerned.
“I said what I had to say sometime ago in Glen and I would stand by what I said,” said Burgin, who suggested that the NDP should appoint the teacher as senators and the party’s research officer.
The teachers, Addison Thomas, Elvis Daniel and Kenroy Johnson, are “without question … experienced teachers [who] are clearly missing in the profession,” the NDP’s statement said.
The NDP noted that Burgin’s statement came just days after Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves spoke about the need for better performances in maths and science by the nation’s students.
“The dismissal of the teachers does not sit well with the nation’s schools, where vacancies exist for maths teachers, social studies teachers and the list goes on,” the statement said.
“This calculated act to victimize and punish these three teachers is backfiring on the children of the nation, and goes contrary to good common sense!” said Terrance Ollivierre, the NDP’s shadow minister of education, according to the statement.
“You have vacancies in subject areas where there is a definite need, and people with the experience and skill set to fill the need, HIRE them. Instead, the ULP have decided to go to the parents of this nation and give them a totally ridiculous explanation for why these teachers are not working to help their children, the students who need it,” Ollivierre further said.
Retired politician and former minister of national security Sir Vincent Beache also spoke on the issue on Sunday, saying that Daniel’s attitude “completed changed” after he was reappointed when he first lost in 2005.
Beache further said that Johnson has one year to go and sacrificed his EC$80,000 gratuity and EC$3,000 pension.
“That is why I am saying you can’t loose your way and you can’t turn fool when you reach the crossroad. Because that is exactly what Ken Johnson did …” Beache said.
But the NDP said that Beache receives more than EC$118, 000 per year for as a national security consultant to the governemtn and was essentially defending his pension “ahead of questions being asked by this nation about how finances are being managed under this ULP government”.
“That is no accident,” said Opposition Leader and NDP president Arnhim Eustace of Beache’s comments, the NDP statement said.
“He is defending his own salary government is paying him for doing absolutely nothing — more than $118,000per year — while our children suffer,” Eustace, a former prime minister and minister of finance said.
The statement further noted that Curtis Bowman, a pharmacist who ran on behalf of the NDP, “was not rehired despite his exemplary work done as a district pharmacist in various parts of St. Vincent and the Grenadines including at the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital”.
It further said that the NDP, when in government, reappointed teachers who ran for elections and lost.