President of the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Union of Teachers (SVGUT) Oswald Robinson has mixed feelings about the Ministry of Education.
He is happy with the results of the 2021 CSEC exams, cites the success as clear indication of the hard work of teachers, and acknowledges parents’ contribution and the efforts of the Ministry.
Robinson also delighted in the recent promotions for teachers from the Teachers College, described it as “a very quick move,” but hinted that that it might just be a preparatory phase.
In general, though, Robinson questioned some approaches the Education Ministry has taken. The ‘Back to School’ move was hasty because “schools were not physically ready,” the President suggested.
He alluded to the absence of “basic protocols” including that of the availability of cleaning material.
The Teachers Union President noted that schools were not power-washed, and he was sad that “teachers had to return under these deplorable conditions.”
Robinson lamented on the painting of a building last Tuesday, one day before its reopening.
He recognised COVID-19, the dislocation caused by the eruption of the La Soufriere volcano and the prevailing threat of dengue fever as the backdroping of the teachers performing platform, but has special regard for the dengue aspect. He was taken aback that children were not allowed to wear protective clothing. “Somebody is not thinking right!” he mused.
The Union President blamed politicians for creating a crisis. He wondered whether the Education Act had been amended, and contended that the arrangements overlooked a lunch hour.
Moreover, Robinson accused the authorities of “trying to muzzle people” when their views do not mesh with those of the status quo.
As it relates to the matter of the vaccination policy for frontline workers following the passage of the Public Health Amendment Bill and the legislated November 19 deadline, Robinson indicated that the Union will be mounting a “legal challenge,” and speculating as to whether “you (government) want to create unemployment” and if “you want poverty to go up?”
He is worried that with the political divisions surrounding the vaccination issue people are losing jobs.
Government, the trade unionist posited, ought to be receptive to “divergent thinking” which he asserted, is “healthy for a nation.”
When all was done, Robinson, in referencing that people’s rights were being eroded, pondered on if “our constitution is being tampered with.”
Robinson was supported at the press conference by attorney Zita Barnwell and Public Service Union’s President Elroy Boucher.
The Unions will be working together to challenge the ‘vaccination policy’ in court.
Robinson disclosed that there have been threats made to him as a result of his advocacy on workers’ behalf. He is not worried and remains undaunted.