Teachers across the country vote today and tomorrow for a new executive body. I take this opportunity to endorse Wendy Bynoe for President.
I have known Wendy Bynoe for nearly 20 years. I lectured her at Teachers College, I was her tutor/adviser when she pursued her bachelor’s and masters degrees in education; I have worked with her as an officer of the Union and as a colleague in the Credit Union movement. I have also had the privilege to see her at work at regional conferences for both the Trade Union and the Credit Union.
Wendy is deeply concerned about the teaching profession and has demonstrated a keen and abiding interest in serving the profession. She is honest, forthright, articulate and profoundly knowledgeable of the extant issues affecting teachers. Her successful tenure as the PRO of our Union speaks volumes about her capacity to take SVGTU and indeed the CUT to another level.
Trade Union leadership is about representation and advocacy; it is about being prepared to sacrifice even some professional comforts and perks for the common good. Everything that I have witnessed about this young woman over the better part of two decades has convinced me that Wendy Bynoe is the right woman for job at this time. With her blend of shrewdness and charm, the educators of this country can rest assured that they have chosen an excellent leader!
Let’s go with Bynoe!
On Friday November 14, 2014 the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Teachers’ Union staged its annual solidarity march and rally. From all reports, the gathering of teachers appeared to be bigger than it was in a few years. In fact, several of the teachers who showed up were doing so for the very first time.
Some persons have openly expressed surprise at the growing number of teachers who chose to actively participate in the events this year. Then, there was the big question: Why are teachers still marching? Some have asserted that the teachers of this country never had it so good. That may be so. But, does it also mean that conditions can not or must not be improved?
Traditionally, teachers have worked under generally difficult conditions. Low salaries; meagre benefits; and deplorable working environments have generally marked the lot of teachers in this country. To be sure, there have been improvements over the years. However, the gains made did not come without struggle. Indeed, the protracted teachers’ strike of 1975 that led to the brutal reprisals from the authorities in the form of the arrests, trials, and dismissals of a number of teachers is still commemorated as a significant point in this never ending struggle.
After nearly forty years, there are still issues to be resolved. Even if we agree that “teachers never had it so good”, we must also accept that there is nothing for which we must continue to struggle?
Consider the following:
- the current unilaterally imposed salary freeze
- the failure to engage the SVGTU in discussion and consultation on issues touching on terms and conditions of service
- the violation of the collective agreement with regard to the Article 16, Election Leave
- the failure to honour the said article leading to the forced resignation of three teachers who ran for office;
- the plight of brother Otto Sam and what his situation may mean for other teachers who may wish to add their voices to contentious national issues;
- the failure to appoint and promote some teachers in accordance with the rules of the civil service and traditional practices; and
- the general malaise afflicting trade unions stemming from efforts to smother them.
The teachers of this country must continue to march. As conditions continue to improve we should march in celebration. To the extent that policies and practices persist that adversely affect the teaching profession we should march in protest!
Long live the SVGTU!