FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: JANUARY 30 TH , 2019

THE NDP CONGRATULATES THE SVGTU ON THEIR HISTORIC VICTORY ON BEHALF

OF DISMISSED TEACHERS

Kingstown, St. Vincent and the Grenadines: Today, January 29 th the St. Vincent and the Grenadines
Teachers Union (SVG TU) has been vindicated by the judgement of the OECS Court of Appeal when the
judges declared that the election leave provision of the collective bargaining agreement that the Ralph
Gonsalves government signed with the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Teachers’ Union in 2005 is not
unconstitutional. The NDP is studying the judgement and will make further pronouncement in the future.


This matter was brought by the SVGTU against the government when after the 2010 general elections,
they refused to reinstate three teachers – Addison “Bash” Thomas, Kenroy Johnson, and Elvis Daniel –
who had contested the 2015 elections on behalf of the Opposition NDP. This refusal to rehire the
teachers was contrary to longstanding practice and a Collective Agreement signed in 2005 by the Unions
and the Government to reinstate teachers who would have contested elections and were unsuccessful at
the polls.


This decision by the government to disregard the collective agreement signed with the Unions had not
only brought the three teachers to great personal hardships, but effectively they also lost their pensions
and other benefits.


The case on behalf of the teachers were first heard by Justice Brian Cottle, who in his February 10, 2018
judgement said that “When I consider the competing arguments as well as my understanding of the
governing legal principles, I am driven to the conclusion that the claimants cannot succeed.” He further
noted that the matter was one “for constitutional reform and not for this court”. The claim by the SVG TU
was then described as “entirely hopeless” and struck out.


The SVGTU persisted in their cause and on 29 January was vindicated.


The NDP congratulates the SVGTU for their courage and tenacity in pushing forward to seek justice for
their members despite the ruling of Justice Cottle. This historic victory is well deserved and when viewed
in conjunction with the recent victory of the PSU, highlights a worrying trend by this ULP government
over the years of a practice that is unmistakably anti-worker and anti-union.


The NDP urges the SVGTU to continue to be true to their members and to represent their interests first.
Further, the NDP is calling on the Government to respect the SVGTU and the PSU as the legitimate
bargaining agents of teachers and public sector workers and to return to the bargaining table with the
unions in accordance with their obligations under ILO Conventions and with historic practice in SVG. In addition, the government should respect the bargaining process and engage in respectful and good-faith
negotiations with teachers and public servants.

 

 


Dr. the Hon. Godwin Friday, President
Mr. Tyrone James, Secretary General
Democrat House
P.O. Box 1300
Kingstown, St. Vincent

Tel: (784) 456 2114
Fax: (784) 4572647
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Website: http://www.ndpsvg.org
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