Fri 17th Oct 2008
Thirty three years after the historic teachers' strike in SVG under the SVLP regime, in which teargas rained down on teachers in Kingstown, (known as teargas Friday), the SVGTU's back is again against the wall with a highly justified demand for Powell 2.
It is wrong for PM Gonsalves to use the global economic crisis as an excuse for not paying the teachers. The teachers' claim was there long before this crisis broke. Why is it that the teachers have to struggle for pay and recognition? PM Gonsalves is very reluctant to invest in the nation's education.
SVG Green Party knows that the SVGTU is a highly professional organisation and takes our children's education very seriously. Far too often public workers have been taken for granted and not received an acceptable remuneration on par with their professional skills and application. We live in a world of spiralling high costs of living and devastating VAT. The Minister of Finance congratulated himself for the high revenue brought in from VAT, so there can be no excuse financially for not paying the teachers the full amount prescribed in Powell 2.
The teachers in SVG should be seen as an indispensable component of the crucial investment in education and sustainable development. They are not a burden to our nation, they are building our nation! Teachers should be supported to become graduates in their field as this will further benefit the education of our children and the development of SVG.
PM Gonsalves stood up in Parliament and justified the $364,000.00 paid to lawyers in the alleged sexual assault and rape charges against himself. Isn't this a conflict of interest by the Minister of Finance? Who are the ones making the greatest contribution to SVG, teachers educating our children or lawyers defending Gonsalves in non official matters? 'Surely taxpayers' money should be spent on our education system, not on Gonsalves' personal matters?
There comes a time when everyone has to stand up and fight for their rights, as echoed by one of our great sons of the soil, Brother Bob Marley. The teachers now have a golden opportunity to demonstrate that they cannot be bought out or pushed over by this highly incompetent Ralph Gonsalves. The nation needs to take note that teachers are not just fighting for themselves, but also for our children - the future of the nation.
SVG Green Party fully supports the SVGTU's legitimate demand. We are calling on all parents and the rest of civil society to support the teachers' democratic industrial action to demand a rapid completion of the Powell 2 exercise and that the highly incompetent ULP regime delivers. Defeat for the teachers is not an option.
Public debt is over $1.5 billion dollars, but teachers should not be punished because the ULP regime has recklessly wasted taxpayers' money over the past 7 years. There's a big difference between spending and investing. The ULP regime has been spending now poverty is increasing and we suffer under VAT. A Green Government will invest, invest in you: providing a better future and ensuring that you are equipped, prepared ' and thus truly free ' to make your own choices and pursue your own dreams.