Educator and social commentator, Philbert “PJohn” John. (IWN file photo)

Social commentator and trade union activist, Philbert “Peejohn” John, is urging members of the Teachers’ Union to choose wisely as they elect a new executive this month.

John, who has been a teacher for three decades and is deputy Principal of the Barrouallie Secondary School, located at Peter’s Hope, said in a Facebook post on Jan. 28 that the elections “are crucial”.

“I am NOT a candidate but I plan to do what I can to influence the outcome… There is too much at stake,” he said on the social networking website.

In another post on Jan. 28, John again wrote about “the despicable four”, a term he coined for four members of the Union’s executive who reported for work on Oct. 13, 2015, the day that the union called its members out for strike action to try to pressure the government to meet its demands for a salary increase.

“Not only did they break the strike, it is reported that some of them were behind the scenes lobbying rank and file members to disregard the call of the union. In industrial relations, this is an unpardonable sin. These persons, to whom I refer as the despicable four, should now do the decent thing and resign from their respective posts immediately,” John wrote on his blog, “SchoolTalk” on Oct. 14.

He identified the “despicable four” as Sheldon Govia, first vice president; Margaret Jackson, general secretary; Jane Farrell, assistant general secretary; and Maxford Jones, committee member.

“As a long-standing member of the SVGTU; and as one who has borne the brunt of rejection and ostracism for my stupid act in 1999, I call on the despicable four to leave the executive immediately. I also urge all members to demand that they be removed forthwith!” John said in the blog post.

In the Jan. 18 Facebook post, John said: “Remember ‘the despicable four’? One or two of them have offered themselves as candidates in the upcoming SVGTU elections. A vote for any of them is a vote for sell out and to further cripple the union! We cannot allow that to happen.”

John further elaborated is views in a Feb. 4 post on SchoolTalk, titled “SVGTU Elections: Go out and vote!

He said the Feb. 18 and 19 elections “come at a crucial time in the development of our union” and urged all member to cast their ballots.

“Exercise your franchise. Make sensible choices regarding whom you think would best serve the interests of the organization and its membership.”

He noted that an official list of all the candidates has been posted on social media.

“This list presents quite an interesting mix of old and new faces. There are some who show bright promise; there are those whose record of past performance suggests that they should be returned. And, of course, there are those whom should be totally rejected and disregarded for their dismal performance and painful betrayal during the past biennium!” John said.

He urged fellow teachers “to seek information.

“Do NOT fall for the attractive posters that are currently making the rounds as the campaign heats up. Thoroughly assess each candidate and choose carefully. Consider a blend of past performance and future promise. Soundly reject those who are merely engaged in the pursuance of personal ambition; vote against the few who have already demonstrated a willingness to put their party loyalty above the union’s agenda. We must severely punish those who have blatantly betrayed the cause of the union.

“The future of the SVGTU is in our hands. Go out and vote. Choose wisely!” John said.

Candidates for SVG Teachers’ Union Executive:

President

  • Oswald Robinson (Incumbent)
  • Sheldon Govia (Incumbent 1st Vice-President)

First Vice-President

  • Nikeisha Williams
  • Vibert Lampkin (Incumbent treasurer)

Second Vice-President

  • Kent “Bing” Cain (incumbent)
  • Abdon Whyte
  • Sheddie Conliffe
  • Phillip Jacobs

General Secretary

  • Jane Farrell (Incumbent Asst. Gen. Sec.)
  • Paulette Williams

Assistant General Secretary

  • Sheri Edwards
  • Jenine Spring

Public Relations Office

  • Wendy Bynoe (Incumbent)
  • Maria Abbott
  • Wade Charles

Treasurer

  • Vincent Benjamin
  • James Wilson

Committee Members

  • Sharon Doyle (Incumbent)
  • Ketty Kydd-Rhynd
  • Anthony Stewart

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