President of the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Teachers’ Union (SVGTU), Oswald Robinson, has described as “a victory for the teachers of St. Vincent and the Grenadines” his recent re-election as Union head.
“They (Union members) have made a choice and I am satisfied with the response and I re-affirm my commitment to the Union, the teachers of St. Vincent and the Grenadines,” Robinson told iWitness News on Monday.
The Gomea Methodist School principal defeated Sheldon Govia for a third consecutive two-year term in elections held Thursday and Friday.
“I pledge to continue to work with all stakeholders in the education sector so that we can continue to contribute to the overall enhancement of the students in St. Vincent and the Grenadines,” Robinson said.
He commended the other persons who were elected, saying he looks forward to working with them in the upcoming biennium, which begins April 7.
Robinson staved off a challenge by First Vice-President in the incumbent executive, Sheldon Govia, a former Union president.
Govia was among four members of the executive who were dubbed “the despicable four” by longstanding Union member, Philbert “PeeJohn” John, for failing to heed the Union’s call for a one-day strike last year as the Union pressed the government for its first salary increase in four years.
The Union membership rejected Govia’s bid for the presidency, by over 100 votes. He garnered 323 votes, compared to Robinson’s 447.
“I believe that the membership placed trust, effective representation, quality leadership, dedication to the interest of the members, the ability to articulate for the membership,” Robinson told iWitness News.
“And I think that the membership looked at my performance when I took over the Union, because, remember, under Mr. Govia’s leadership, the Union went down into the valley of the shadow of death,” Robinson said.
Robinson, who is now into his second stint as Union head, having served two terms from 2001 to 2005, said he resurrected the Union and revived the various arms.
“And his track record will show that he didn’t really perform,” Robinson said of Govia.
He added: “So those persons who were close to the Union, who were following, they are the one who was spreading the message that we need to put back the Union in good hands.”
Robinson said that there are some branches of the Union that are still dormant and he will focus on these in the new term.
“We are looking forward to employing an industrial relations officers who can assist in some of the mobilisation to address some of the outstanding grievances which are still there.”
He siad there are over 140 retired teachers in the country and the Union will be examining how it can incorporate them in the “mainstream of the Union, to incorporate them in the school system.
“Some of them can be good mentors,” he said. “They can volunteer to assist a school here or there or even young teachers who need some assistance or newly appointed principals. We need to have some programme for them, to involve them more, take advantage of their expertise that they have.”
Robinson told iWitness News that the Union will also continue to monitor for legislation that affects workers, in general, and, teachers, in particular.