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President of the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Teachers' Union, Oswald Robinson. (iWN file photo)
President of the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Teachers’ Union, Oswald Robinson. (iWN file photo)
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The St. Vincent and the Grenadines Teachers’ Union is urging the nation’s educators to “count the cost and take” note before entering electoral politics.

Union leader Oswald Robinson made the point as he noted that the government has refused to honour an agreement with the union that should see teachers return to the classroom with all benefits intact, if they fail at electoral politics.

“And there some teachers now I understand going in to run, so you need to count the cost and take note of that. Because if Kenroy Johnson can’t get his pension and gratuity up to now, you’re punishing somebody for which they have not done anything wrong. Pay attention to that because it seems as if it is taking donkey years before you could even be considered, to obey the court,” Robinson told a press conference last week.

He called on the Ralph Gonsalves government to honour the court’s ruling and pay Johnson.

Johnson was one of three teachers who resigned ahead of the 2010 general elections to contest on behalf of the opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) but was not rehired, notwithstanding a collective bargaining agreement that the union had signed years earlier with the Ralph Gonsalves government.

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The court has since ruled that Johnson, as well as Elvis Daniel and Addison “Bash” Thomas, the other two of the “three NDP teachers” must be paid their gratuity and pension when they reach retirement age.

Johnson has reached retirement age and is still waiting his pay-out.

“It is total wickedness that the government is in contempt of the court. The court has ruled. The judge would have ruled. It’s time for compensation. It’s time to pay the man,” Robinson told a press conference last week.

“It’s not easy — you work for almost 40 years, contributing to the development of education in your community. And then because you’re on another political fence, people don’t want to ensure that you enjoy your property.

“Pension is a property. It is enshrined in the Constitution and the judges have ruled that the man should get his property,” he said, noting that Thomas and Daniel are yet to reach retirement age.

“… He (Johnson) is such a humble man, would have given tremendous sacrifice and because he ran for political office, and he lost, you don’t want to give him back his job…”

He noted that the government signed a collective bargaining agreement with the union, which should have preserved the three teachers’ benefits but Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves later said the agreement was “aspirational”.

“Who can you fool? And we have agreed that there were persons who ran for political office even before we signed a collective agreement with that clause intact,” he said, adding that teachers, including Daniel, Nicola Daize, and Ruth Woods were given back their jobs after they lost in general elections.

It was noted to the union that at least one current teacher is likely to become a candidate in the next general election and a retired teacher who has been declared a first-time candidate.

Robinson had been asked if the union had a position on teachers getting involved in politics.

He said that the union does not get involved in endorsing teachers who become politicians, noting that there are teachers who support each of the political parties in the country.

“So we can’t tell our teachers who vote for or we can’t tell our teachers vote for that person.”

Robinson, however, said there is a clause in the union’s constitution that has never really been implemented.

“But let’s say the authorities decide to take us for granted and the membership feels that we must speak publicly, then the union will do so if it becomes necessary. That clause says that the union can exhort influence on its members on matters of national importance.

“Election is a matter of national importance. So the union can make that statement, but we have not done so and I don’t think we may want to do so because it may divide the union just like in the days of Joshua and Cato, when Joshua want you to go one way, promising the increase in salary in 1975 and …  and the politicians were getting into the union…

“But under my leadership, I am not and I’ve never done it. And I have no intention to say to any teacher who to vote for. That is your business. If I want to support you, as a teacher, for your policies from a party standpoint, that’s my individual right to do so. But as a union, if the union wants to make a statement, the union can do so.

4 replies on “Teachers urged to ‘count the cost’ before entering politics”

  1. Nathan Jolly Green says:

    Teachers should ensure they do not vote ULP, because the NDP would have honoured that agreement.

    Ralph Gonsalves was one of the signatories of that contract and he told the teachers at the time this is the best contract you have ever had. Then later he said that he knew that the contract was unenforceable when he signed it.

    Teachers you have been cheated and conned you must punish Gonsalves by not voting ULP. Get him out of the equation you deserve better, you deserve honesty, decency and no lies laid on you.

    In the past teaching was an honorable profession like being a lawyer or a bank manager, you were respected and valued by society and the government. All that has been destroyed by this ULP government, you are no longer seen as of that special standing.

    Instead of being looked up to, you are being looked down on and the main culprit for that is Ralph Gonsalves.

  2. What price freedom? When the President of the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Teachers’ Union, Oswald Robinson, is urging the nation’s educators to “count the cost and take” note before entering electoral politics, what cost will we pay to regain our freedom?

    If we Vincentians cannot choose who our own representatives shall be, what cost will we pay to regain our freedom eh? Shame on us all, to have allowed ourselves, to be so dragged down thus so low!

    For those here who do not yet understand where we have arrived at, may one ask, is just a few sacks of cement and roof coverings are all our Vincentian freedom is worth? Shame, shame, shame! Our ancestral slaves would have expected better of us!

    “If you have tears, prepare to shed them now!” for we have sold ourselves extremely very short indeed! What fools we were, to have walked ourselves back into neo-slavery.

    To have allowed a deluded old man and his extended family, so much latitude, so that both he and they could march us all back into servitude, where he and they are indeed absolute masters of us all! What price Freedom? What price freedom eh?

  3. Come on Oswald! Ralph will never honour anything in his life. He uses people to get his way, then he turns his back on them. Take the case of my friend Louis who was promised the GG job and a position at the UN. He got neither and now he’s too old to take on any real position, especially with COVID 91 reaping havoc worldwide. He fooled him with having the Queen promoting him to “SIR” status, but we will always remember him as “BLACK GAL”. Ralph is another Trump who promises the skies and can’t deliver nothing but dirt.

  4. I think as someone who has been following what is going on there in saint vincent, you all is making who should or who shouldn’t get back their position if they run against who in th he election and dont win not allowed to not get back their jobs if they want to. Politics should not interfere with a man’s livelihood. He has to work or go on skidro to survive. Now that he reaches of age to get his pension from the government I dont see why there is an issue with the present government. That dont happen in the US or any part of the world.

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