“Policy makers have been doing their own thing”; SVGTU seeking legal advice

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The St. Vincent and the Grenadines Teachers’ Union (SVGTU) has sought legal advice as schools across SVG are set to reopen on Monday August 31, 2020, with teachers expected to perform temperature checks on students.

President of the SVGTU, Oswald Robinson has expressed that teachers are not responsible for performing temperature checks.

Robinson, speaking on the WakeUpCall via telephone on Monday (Aug. 24) said that the union had a meeting with the Ministry of Education (MoE) two weeks ago and stated their position.

“The stakeholders have been saying we need more sanitizing stations. We need more hand washing stations. And then we discussed the issue of the temperature checks, the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Education seem not to want to take on the responsibility, they want to place it on the teachers.”

“The point of the matter is, that is not part of the nature of teaching,” he expressed.

Robinson was asked how performing temperature checks will affect regular functions of teachers.

He said: “Because you have to do additional planning, you have to prepare for your class and teachers are already overwhelmed. So therefore, we recommended that parents do checks at home. We also asked them to employ YES workers to do the checks. But nobody want to seem to take on that, they want to place everything on the responsibly of teachers.”

Robinson stressed that government officials are “doing their own thing.”

The President noted that the MoE, during their presentation in Parliament recently, said that teachers are being trained to perform temperature checks. According to Robinson, the Union never had a conversation about teachers receiving training.

“We have already informed our legal attorney about this matter, we are in consultation. It doesn’t make any sense that you have consultation with stakeholders in going back to school and the policy makers have been doing their own thing.”

“…It happened when we had local government consultation, it happened also when we had a national consultation on constitutional reform. I said to the people at the education advisory board, of which I represent the teachers’ union, that this is the third time that the policy makers are doing their own thing and they’re not going to get away this time under my leadership.”

Dialogue between co-hosts (Christal & Tha Fugitive) and Robinson:

What happens on Monday?

We are saying to our teachers that it is the responsibility if the employer to provide people to check the temperature, not our members.

What happens if a teacher refuses to do what is being required of them by Ministry in this regard?

That is why we are in conversation with our legal attorney. Because checking temperature is not part of teaching. This union is going to stand with our teachers right through.

Do you have the support of all teachers who are members of the union with these decisions that have been taken by you?

There are persons who may have difference of opinion. But at the end of the day, the teachers’ union is the sole voice for all our members.

The president explained that employers are responsible for providing safe working conditions.

“The provision of masks is the responsibility of the employer and we could quote the Occupational Safety and Health act. It is the responsibility of the employer to ensure that the workplace is healthy and safe.”

Robinson continued, “There is also the Ministry of Labour that produced a workplace policy, and it is the obligation of the employer to provide the same mask. So our point of reference is clear on all these matters.”

The SVGTU President shared some final words with teachers. “I am saying to our teachers, remain firm, remain committed to the voice of the union and at the end of the day it is the teachers union that is gong to stand up for you.”