Teachers’ Union President, Oswald Robinson, left, and Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves. (IWN file photo)

Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves said Monday that he was “shocked” that the Teachers’ Union was asking for assurances about job security in light of commitments the government had made to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) after receiving a US$6.4 million loan last month.

“Where does that come from? Where does that come from? Where does that come from? There is absolutely nothing like that in my letter to the IMF, absolutely nothing like that,” Gonsalves told I-Witness News on Monday.

“I mean I am shocked that anybody would even ask a questions like that. I have been employing more teachers, in fact,” he said.

The IMF said in a press release last month that the Gonsalves government remains committed to securing a sustainable fiscal position and intends to generate a primary surplus of at least 2 per cent of GDP in the medium term to ensure that the debt-to-GDP ratio is put on a declining path, the release said.

“The authorities also intend to carry out civil service and pension reforms, which will boost competitiveness and employment.”

But the Teachers’ Union said on Sunday that it is “all too cognisant of the negative consequences of such arrangements for public sector workers, especially teachers”.

President of the Union, Oswald Robinson, told I-Witness News on Monday that his union is seeking answers from the government.

“When we look at the IMF in the region and what has happened with other governments, we must be concerned,” Robinson said.

“So we are asking questions so that the government will explain to us what are some of the consequences which would affect workers, and in particular teachers,” he added.

He said one of the IMF’s conditions of granting the loan “has to do with containing salaries and it talks about government increasing revenue.

“And, as you know, one of the major means of government generating revenue is income tax. When we look at the St. Lucia situation and recently, Grenada, we have to ask questions therefore, so that we will be in a position to explain to our membership. So that is basically why we raised those questions,” he said.

Both Gonsalves and Robinson were asked about the union’s concern at the end of an event in Kingstown were the Caribbean Examinations Council formally released the results of the May-June exams.

Gonsalves, in a conversation with Robinson, asked the union leader if he was “allowing propaganda to lead you astray”.

The prime minister told Robinson St. Vincent and the Grenadines is one of two countries in the Caribbean that pays teachers annual increments of between 2 and 2.5 per cent of their salary and 65 per cent of public servants get their increments.

“We are asking for explanations,” Robinson told Gonsalves during the exchange.

“But you are adding to foolishness,” Gonsalves responded.

“No, no, no, no,” Robinson said, telling Gonsalves, “Nothing is wrong with asking a question,” Prime Minister.”

Robinson told I-Witness News that the union plans to raise the issue formally with the government.

“We intend to write, because it is good that you have public debates on these issues so that you are aware, because everybody has different perspectives,” he said.

Robinson further noted that public servants have not received increments since 2011.

“What we had in 2011 was a retroactive payment which was three years behind. Since then, we haven’t had any discussions with regard to increase. We are actually operating say seven to eight years behind,” he said.

“We are looking at the state of the economy, among other factors. As a union, you don’t just go blindly and ask for an increase. You have to ensure that it is justifiable,” he added.

Asked if he thinks such an increase was justifiable in the current circumstances, Robinson said:

“I am saying we have look at the economy, we have to look at the state of the economy, because, sometimes you ask for an increase and you go into a higher income bracket and it makes no sense. That the value of 100 dollars five, six years ago is not the same as now.”

6 replies on “Gonsalves ‘shocked’ by Teachers’ Union’s request”

  1. How will this cash-strapped Government ever be able to service the high interest payments on the sale of treasury notes, let alone pay back the principle on these loans? They won’t be able to. The result will be a loan default and an even lower credit rating for our beloved country.

    “Greece, Argentina, Venezuela … look out, here we come!”

  2. Urlan Alexander says:

    Well! Well! So the maximum leader does not wish to be ask about the state of the economy? The teachers should not be concerned about the arrangements made with the IMF? The PM says the teachers and other civil servants get their increment every year and the Teachers Union President says that its s not so? Who do I believe? One admits he Lie sometimes and the other well I never heard hi m say he lies, but he could be a liar too, lol! Jokes ah waste!. Lets wait and see.

  3. Steve Huggins says:

    Is the erstwhile sitting Prime Minister totally LOSING HIS PROVERBIAL MARBLES?

    Akin to the embarrassing MESS with the black female Jamaican journalist in interview in Grenada?

    Of course when a broken Administration (‘Government”) runs to the IMF, then THE WORKERS and THE WORKERS’ REPRESENTATIVES rightfully become seriously concerned about normally IMPENDING collateral POLICY MEASURES of ATTRITION, REDUNDANCY, DRASTIC CUT-BACKS IN THE WORK-FORCE, MEMBERS BEING “LAID OFF”, FIRINGS, UNEMPLOYMENT AND UNDEREMPLOYMENT.

    SINCE WHEN ralph gonsalves NAH KNOW DAT?

    IS THIS the self-same guy who guest tutored my TEACHERS’ TRADE UNIONISM classes?

    Wey good fuh the GOOSE, nah GOOD FOR THE GANDER . . . now?

    Am I to now SUDDENLY DISCOUNT all WHAT HE PROMULGATED as a ‘visitor’ in our UWI Public Administration courses?

    Well, AFTER ONE TIME . . . IS ANOTHER!

    IS THIS the supposedly ‘worker-friendly’ MARXIST-LENINIST pol who breathed “fire and brimstone” purportedly in defence of ‘workers’ rights’ IN HIS ‘SOCIALIST’ [pro-RUSSIAN castroite COMMUNIST] advocacy in this region, and in his ideological indoctrinations as an assistant lecturer at UWI.

    Cousin Duff Walker-JAMES and his ‘scientific socialist’ puppy Caspar London would have been ABSOLUTELY SHOCKED AND CONSTERNATED at ‘call-me-comrade, too’ Ralphie’s INCONSISTENT, INCONGRUOUS, AND INGRIATE REMARK.

    My neighbour ‘DO-SO’ reputedly NEVER LIKE SO!

    Our West Indian bard JIMMY CLIFF has it right THE FIRST TIME when he chanted:
    “HYPOCRITE, HYPOCRITE”:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0L_2aWaXWAI
    Hypocrite, hypocrite
    You d____ hypocrite
    You gonna pay the price some day —-
    Hypocrites, all of [ U.. ] hypocrites
    You gonna pay the price some day.

    Is the PRICE really that choice one being hypotesized by BLANE ?

    OWN THE JAILS.

    Reflexive, for true.

    indeed, deceptive WORDS just seem to seep from this duplicitous copycat comrade’s mouth, BUT, indeed, what he has for a heart IS TELLING US LIES.

    JIMMY CLIFF: “Oh —- hypo . . . . ..
    Hypocrite, yuh better watch out.”

    Yep, there is MUCHO, MUCHO, MUCHO “SUFFERING IN THE LAND” of the hard-working VINCIES.

    SO MANY of our working class AND middle class peoples are tragically TRAPPED in increased, pronounced IMPOVERISHMENT with this politically corrupt LENINIST “Papa Doc” blithely reducing each of us to the reverted status of a “POOR SLAVE”.

    We in the ST.VINCENT AND THE GRENADINES TEACHERS’ UNION (SVG-TU) in concert with other workers’ organizations had the narcissist Mitchell regime teetering on its back-foot.
    THEN, we could have had pragmatically anthing that we were to ask for in collective bargaining negotiations.
    The various administrations had used delays and sharply reduced amounts, successively,in our due salary revisions and Commissions ever since “PUCCINELLI”.
    SO, we could have at least tentatively tolerated the NDP’s 15 % proferred increase (still hefty, considering the overall milieu), AND smartly negotiated other, more professionally strategic, concessions.

    BUT, No. We preferred the POLITICAL “RAKAN”, instead.

    But, NO. We naively, unwiselyt listened to the Stalinist ideologue who wanted to have HIS “Road-Block” ‘revolution’ to brag about to his controller the dotish castro and shamefully the almost-literate chavez.

    NO RESPITE even for ambulances taking sick or birthing persons to the Kingstown General Hospital.

    Even so, we black boys were TOLD to lie down infront of the RED maasa so that the Royal SVG Police Force officers could not get at ‘im to lock ‘im up for obstructing the free flow of traffic WITHOUT the Commissioner’s express authorization.

    So, SVG-TU, Public Service Union (SVG PSU), et al – – – WE WALKED, TALKED, ATE and DRANK – – – Together with the Judas who said he wished the workers well. but this POLITICO-IDEOLOGICAL SNAKE IN THE GRASS behaviour now finally, IF WE DIDN’T CATCH IT BEFORE, make us REALIZE that “… there is always one to be found…”

    SVG TU, can you tell HOW MANY REAL SALARY INCREASES THAT TEACHERS HAVE HAD IN THE PASS THIRTEEN-plus years?

    SVG TU, tell us: WHAT was the SIZE OF THOSE scarce ‘increases’.

    The Workers’ Movement sold out its very soul, to a SATANIC CULT called ‘scientific socialism’, RUSSIAN ‘international’ socialism, Marxism-Leninism, COMMUNISM, or the UTTER RUBBISH called “Socialist Orientation”.

    The SVG workers’ unions HAVE BEEN PITIFULLY COLONIZED BY THE YOULIMO communist party cadres ever since about 1975.

    My query is: HOW FAR HAVE THE SVG WORKERS’ UNIONS BEEN effectively COMMUNIZED?

    The COMMUNISTIC comrade has essentially CASTRATED THE WORKERS’ ORGANIZATIONS IN SVG. Their neo-relationship is that of BEGGARDLY “slave – MASTER”.

    Yuh tink ah LIE?

    Then, LET THEM DEMONSTRATE TO US THAT THEY HAVE ANY BALLS at all LEFT in dey organizational or trade union ‘SCROTUM’.

    They are SAD victims of the RUSSIAN failed ‘sovietism’ and the RACIST SLAVE-STATE cuba. Where reigns ATHEISM galore.

    SATANISM, and GROTESQUE, GROSS ATHEISM.

    SHAMELESS LIES and FALSE PRETENSES.

    Their ideological high priest LENIN: “PROMISES ARE like pie-crusts, MADE TO BE BROKEN.”

    Ralph’s ideological hero: “RELIGION . . . IS THE OPIATE OF THE PEOPLE.”

    Things begun in EVIL, surely END IN EVIL, and pure WICKEDNESS.

    SVG did not look BEFORE we LEAPT, despite the DIRE warnings of the SVG-LP, The STAR Newspaper, the ROBERT MILTON CATO ADMINISTRATIONS, most all leading lights of the ST.VINCENT LABOUR PARTY, and political veteran EBENEZER THEODORE JOSHUA.

    THAT CAN BE CORRECTED.

    Yet, it will definitely be A HARD ROAD TO TRAVEL.

    And, there will be MANY RIVERS TO CROSS.

    The PRICE OF FREEDOM, INDEPENDENCE and NATIONAL SELF-RESPECT is OUR ETERNAL VIGILANCE.

    Sooner or later, the corrupters, COMMUNISTIC subversives, and destroyers of our individual freedoms, national laws and independence constitution WILL, like the POLITICAL AND IDEOLOGICAL “HYPOCRITES” that they are, HAVE TO PAY THE PRICE.

    OWN THE DAMNABLE JAILS.

    QUO VADIS, HAIROUNA ?
    ,
    Whither goes thou, my most beloved ST. VINCENT AND THE GRENADINES?

    Will you choose ATHEISTIC COMMUNISM, unadulterated SECULAR-MATERIALISM, and STALINIST-LENINIST DESPOTISM?

    OR,

    Will my most beloved HAIROUNA wisely CHOOSE life, libert and happiness? Individual freedom, private entrepreneurship and free private markets.

    The RULE OF LAW and REPRESENTATIVE DEMOCRACY.

    SVG – – – Quo Vadis ?

    “TIME WILL TELL, Time Will Tell….

    TIME will ALWAYS tell”

  4. Why should the PM be shocked by that request? Is he forgetting that SVG is a democracy, though for the most parts, we operate under a state of fear of victimization? It is clear that he is not used to being questioned or challenged. Gonzie boy the chickens are coming home to roost. Count how many months you have left …

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