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“No regularisation – no vote”

Protesting teachers were prevented by police officers from entering the Botanical Gardens in Tanteen on Monday

Come election day, we voting them away. We shall not be voting NNP…We not making a joke for our pensions, we not making joke for regularisation, for our upgrades – we not making joke for anything.

Those were some of the chants echoed by disgruntled teachers led by President of the Grenada Union of Teachers (GUT), Jude Bartholomew in a protest action on Monday in their continued fight for “social, and economic justice” outside the Botanical Gardens in Tanteen, St. George.

The protestors issued a stern warning to Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell, and his ruling New National Party (NNP) regime that they will not put the X by the Green House on Election Day set for June 23 if their longstanding demands are not met by the authorities.

Among the list of grievances cited by the teachers is demand for their status to be regularised and for the Mitchell government, which is hoping to be elected back into office, to honour its long-outstanding promise to do so within the shortest possible time.

Prime Minister Mitchell had sought to assure teachers that the regularisation of their status is an issue that will be addressed in 2022.

In his contribution to the 2022 budget debate in December last year, PM Mitchell told Parliament that the status of “391 teachers have been regularized” and revealed that the Ministry of Education and Department of Public Administration (DPA) were working to regularise the status of an additional “123 teachers by the first quarter of this year.”

The Grenadian leader also gave assurances that “the Ministry of Education has already compiled the necessary data towards resolving this outstanding issue.”

“We are awaiting the numbers to ensure objectivity, and transparency in the process. To date three batches totaling 391 teachers have been regularised and the number identified for 2022 is 123,” PM Mitchell told Parliament which has now been dissolved to facilitate the upcoming general election.

However, the GUT President has expressed dissatisfaction with the Ministry’s figures, telling reporters last month that there are “over 400 teachers still to be regularised including some who have been “permanently temporary” for over 20 years.

An aggrieved Bartholomew said it was the teachers’ expectation that the regularisation process should have started in January 2022 or at least by the end of March, and GUT is now demanding that the government regularise the years of service of his members and for full increments to be paid.

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“Teachers are permanently temporary (and) have been so for a long period of time, and today teachers are saying enough is enough. The Grenada government, the Ministry of Education, they promised regularisation, and upgrades by January. Come January, the Prime Minister of Grenada made the public pronouncement that by March these teachers will be upgraded. January, February, March, April (are) gone, May going about its business, elections coming and go, and yet still these people never regularised our members,” he contended.

The GUT boss pointed out that there are teachers within the island’s lone tertiary institution, the T.A. Marryshow Community College (TAMCC) who have served for more than 20 years, and who the Ministry (of Education) said would be upgraded by February but “up to now these teachers have not been upgraded”.

“Is that fair? quipped the GUT boss, who has for the past few weeks led TAMCC lecturers in a protest over outstanding accumulating increments owed to them.

Speaking on a political platform last week, Education Minister Emmalin Pierre, spoke of plans to launch an investigation into the teachers alleged bribery of TAMCC students in exchange for their support on the picketing line.

According to the GUT President, this attack from Minister Pierre has “added insult to injury” and only compromised the grades of students, especially those looking to attend universities overseas.

“…These are the same people that the government, the Prime Minister, and the Minister of Education (are) calling upon to vote for them on Election Day…and what we are saying together is enough is enough. No regularistion – no vote, no upgrades – no vote, no docked salaries – no vote, no pensions – no vote, we ‘doh’ making joke,” he said.

Bartholomew was seen leading his members in a chant at the entrance to the Botanical Gardens, where members of the Royal Grenada Police Force (RGPF) were stationed to prevent them from entering during Monday’s protest.

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