Election leave conflict looms as gov’t, teachers negotiate new deal

KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent – The election leave article of the 2005 collective agreement between the government and teachers might return as a bone of contention in a new deal under negotiation.

The Teachers’ Union is expected to discuss soon the draft proposal of a new collective agreement hammered out during one week of negotiations in December.

But sources familiar with the negotiations tell I-Witness News that while there are no major changes to the 2005 agreement, there might be some disagreement on the phrasing of the article.

The article was intended to grant election leave to teachers, but was later said to be unconstitutional.

It was said to have been partly responsible for the resignation of four teachers in 2010 to contest the elections that year.

The three teachers, who competed for the opposition New Democratic Party have not been rehired by the state while the one who contested for the ruling Unity Labour Party has been made a senator.

“That article that deals with election leave … the words used last time, in my mind, were clear where you used ‘shall’ and ‘must’. It left no room for ambiguity,” a source told I-Witness News.

“Right now, the government’s side, recognising what happened in the previous document, doesn’t want to go that route in terms of the wording. They are trying to soften the wording and I know that will be a contentious issue,” said the source, who asked for anonymity.

The government and the teachers also agreed that material benefits owed to teachers would be reviewed one year after the new agreement comes into effect “so that both sides can take into consideration an enhancement of some of the benefits”.

“… That will be a next significant departure from the previous document, in that we never had a situation where we were saying that we will review the document within a year with a view to revising it based on the economic situation,” the source said.

In Previous agreements, benefits were reviewed after two years, regardless of the country’s economic fortunes.

According to information reaching I-Witness News, both the government and the Teachers’ Union agreed that in the economic circumstances it would be difficult to enhance any of financial benefits, such as end of year allowances.

This country has witnessed three consecutive years of economic decline with performance in 2010 expected to range between a further decrease of 0.4 per cent and growth of 0.8 per cent.

Both sides of the negotiation table are also said to have identified a need to “emphasise the professional responsibilities of teachers”.

They also agreed to bring maternity and other special leave in keeping with International Labour Organisation standard revised last year.

“Generally, I don’t think there will be a great departure from what existed before,” the source said of the proposed revision to the 2005 agreement.

Another source told I-Witness News that the Teachers Union membership could meet as soon as Wednesday to discuss the new proposals.

After that meeting, the documents will be sent back to the Attorney General’s Chambers and the Ministry of Education for further perusal and authorisation before it is signed.

But a second source, who also asked for anonymity, was more pessimistic about the outcome of the negotiations.

“It really doesn’t bring teachers any new benefits at all,” the source told I-Witness News.

“I understand that every time the teachers tried to make any proposals, once it was a legal issue, the government’s legal personnel would say that it is not possible. And if it was a financial issue, the finance personnel would say that the government could not afford that,” the source said.

The Teacher’s Union will seek its members’ stamp of approval for the new proposal even as the Public Service Union meets on Monday to decide what to do as the government asks them wait until June for a further review of the country’s coffers before a decision is made about paying increases owed since January 2011.

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11 thoughts on “Election leave conflict looms as gov’t, teachers negotiate new deal

  1. As a teacher, I have long realised that the Teachers’ Union is a selfish, lop-sided body, ironically more interested in pleasing the Government than its membership. What is being done to these three fellow teachers is nothing short of wickedness. I pray that Bethlehem had an impact on consciences and that the three teachers would be re-instated this very second term.

    Posted by justice | January 2, 2012, 17:14
  2. The agreement of 2005 was signed by Gonsalves who claims to be constitutional law expert. He said he knew when signing that contract that it was unconstitutional and unenforceable. He should be prosecuted for such behaviour. Smell the sulphur.

    The man should be sacked from all his ministries and replaced with another ULP MP.

    Posted by Peter | January 2, 2012, 19:00
    • Funny enough, the teachers’ union will be duped again. Watch and see.

      Posted by BAGGA | January 2, 2012, 22:37
  3. I have ABSOLUTELY NO SYMPATHY for any of these THREE TEACHERS, especially Mr. Johnson.

    Here is a MAN who knew, just like every person on PLANET EARTH, that he could not DEFEAT Dr. Ralph Gonsalves at the POLLS, but risked the chance of SECURING his PENSION, which was only a year away, to run for POLITICAL OFFICE, when he NEVER EVER DEMONSTRATED that he had a SERIOUS interest in that profession until he was asked to run by the NDP at the MIDNIGHT HOUR.

    What TEACHER in their RIGHT MIND would RISK their LIVELIHOOD and PENSION knowing full well only the GODS can assure him or her victory against Dr. Ralph Gonsalves?

    Yes, it would have been a teacher who obviously didn’t have his or her STUDENTS at heart, but who was HIGHLY LIKELY LOOKING out for their BEST INTEREST.

    Mr. Johnson was likely PROMISED/GIVEN MONIES and a POSITION within an NDP GOVERNMENT, after he was CONVINCED that the NDP would have been ELECTED the GOVERNMENT of the DAY, and so abandoned his profession and STUDENTS to run against a CANDIDATE that no one on PLANET EARTH seriously thought he could have defeated.

    A person like that cannot get any SYMPATHY from me.

    In closing, this NATION has TEACHERS who have graduated from UNIVERSITY WAITING to EDUCATE our KIDS, and I am CONFIDENT that they will do an EXCELLENT JOB. Therefore, let the 3 STOOGES wait in the BACK of the LINE, if they want their jobs back, for available vacancies, as other teachers have done and have continued to do.

    Posted by vincypowa | January 2, 2012, 20:10
    • Vincy Powa, are you serious? What about Elvis Charles? Are you saying that he did not have a heart for his students, too? Many of our present politicians were teachers immediately before becoming politicians. id they have a heart for their students? The PM had a stint in teaching. Many others left the teaching profession for other professions. What do you say?

      You are seriously too ULP. What is the matter with your heart? And, this is not as if they did not follow proper procedures or did anything illegal that they are not re-hired. I say to you again, What about Elvis Charles?

      Posted by justice | January 3, 2012, 13:01
    • There you have it folks, ignorance at its best. No one does it better than Vincy Powa. Some of the best teachers in the caribbean he’s referring to them as stooges. LOVE IT.
      Maybe, just maybe, one of these teachers had his sights set on being Education Minister, they would still be serving the students of our nation wouldn’t they?
      It’s amazing, people who seek higher office, with a willingness to continue to serve the people of this nation are called stooges….. like i said ignorance at its absolute best.. LOVE IT

      Posted by vincy in bad shape | January 3, 2012, 13:30
    • I can’t wait for the day to come to hear the cries of people like you who think you have all the power in the world now. Times do change and they will. KARMA is an SOB

      Posted by Bagga | January 3, 2012, 13:35
    • Vincy Powa, do you take pride in your stupidy? Re-read what you have just posted and tell me if you are not just plain wicked and evil. Of course, your are too dumb to know better.

      Posted by Olbap | January 4, 2012, 13:23
  4. VincyPowa, thanks for that insight into your beliefs, we are all able to see that you are a member of the scum brigade. What a despicable person you are. As you reflect the opinions of Gonsalves we can also see what a scum bag he is.

    The agreement of 2005 was signed by Gonsalves who claims to be constitutional law expert. He said he knew when signing that contract that it was unconstitutional and unenforceable. He should be prosecuted for such behaviour.

    Smell the sulphur.

    The man should be sacked from all his ministries and replaced with another ULP MP’s. His behaviour is unfit for the office that he holds.

    Posted by Peter | January 3, 2012, 09:03
  5. Giving a group a contract which is known beforehand by the signitaries as unenforceable and unconstitutional, that is what one could call a revolutionary practice.

    So therefore it should be accepted that this action is part of the Education Revolution and therefore to be truly patriotic you must all accept this as the norm.

    This is normal Marxist procedure, just shut up and take what you deserve. How on earth the teachers ever became part of the ‘dunce class’ is beyond me.

    In fact how the teachers ever became teachers and are teaching our children is frightening.

    Posted by Peter | January 9, 2012, 13:02
  6. Gonsalves here is the answer to your problems paying wage increases for the public service workers and teachers.

    Give them blocks or shares in the new Christian Blood Airport at Argyle. Make them all airport paper millionaires, they will go for that, just give them some of your charisma they will think they have hit the mother load.

    Posted by Peter | January 12, 2012, 21:19

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