The St. Vincent and the Grenadines Teachers Union’s industrial relations officer says that some teachers are “exposed and being forced to take unfair, unreasonable, discriminatory and unlawful treatment in the way appointments and promotions are being handled”.
Otto Sam told a press conference held by the Teachers’ Union in Kingstown on Tuesday that there are 45 teachers who have bachelor’s degrees and a few of them, after seven to 10 years additional service, have not been even promoted to graduate teacher.
“And that cannot be fair. That cannot be reasonable and that is clearly discriminatory,” said Sam, a former educator, who was fired a few years ago from the Public Service after being transferred from the classroom to the National Emergency Management Organisation and had won the government in court over the matter.
He said there are teachers who consistently apply for posts within the teaching service and although they are “qualified, …dedicated, …hardworking, … year after year, they watch their juniors who are less committed, less experienced, less qualified being appointed to those posts while they languish with their first and second degree.”
Sam said that the Teachers’ Union sees this as “a great injustice”.
“It is cruel, not just that it is unreasonable and unfair. When once thinks that these teachers … have invested huge sums of money, borrowed loans, neglected their family, their churches, their community to develop themselves, based on government’s policy of letting us go and upgrade ourselves so that the students will be better off and the system and the national good would be better off, that in itself needs to be corrected”.
He said there are teachers who have retired with master’s degrees, including one case where a teacher who had a first degree and was not appointed as a graduate for several years went and got postgraduate training in counselling.
“The state used her to address crisis after crisis, all the crises within the national landscape — parents and children and so forth — yet that teacher had to retire as an SQAT (senior qualified assistant teacher) — not even appointed as a graduate.”
Sam said there are members of the Vincentian society who still think such developments are right.
“The Bible speaks and says woe be onto them that call evil good. And it is just a shame that our society has come to this place.”
He said that currently, more than one-third of the nation’s teachers should be promoted to SQAT, but the government is taking teachers who have first degrees who should be appointed as SQATs and appointing them “unlawfully” to Teacher IV positions.
“Now, someone who has a first degree for three to five, up to seven and nine years is “not being promoted to the position that they should be”.
“This is the state. This is not a set of elitists from somewhere in Europe or Africa. This is the state doing this to its workers.”
Sam said that the union is also concerned that a number of teachers who are graduates are not being placed in the correct grade.
“These are all unfair treatment and the union just cannot stand by and see it happening,” he said, reiterating a statement by President of the Teachers’ Union, Oswald Robinson, that steps will be taken to address the situation.