Union condemns on-call teacher system

POSTED: 07/10/13 12:57 PM
ElshotClaire Elshot

St. Maarten -The first meeting between the board of the Windward Islands Teachers Union (Witu) and new Education Minister Patricia Lourens took place on Monday in which several concerns raised by teachers in the public education system were brought to the attention of the minister. In her weekly press briefing, union leader Claire Elshot reported that discussions were fruitful with regard to joint ventures for International Teachers’ Day but Minister Lourens was also challenged to reverse some systems that were implemented under the former administration such as “on call teachers.”
“Last school year, all of a sudden this new type of teacher surfaced and no social dialogue or collaboration with the union was ever held on this. On call teacher; the union is in total disagreement with that concept because based on the recommendation of the Status of Teachers, it is a discriminatory tract in the way it was created and the way it is being applied is substandard.”

Elshot said that she can understand the concept of an on call or substitute teacher “but to have a person work the whole year around as a teacher in the same grade in school, full time and still bring their status down and have a much lower salary sometimes at minimum wage a month, that is totally unacceptable.”
The union leader explained that up to last week, she registered a complaint from one teacher and it was only then that she realized that teaching professionals who have been placed in the “on call” category, are not being paid vacation allowance, regardless of if they had worked a full year in the education system.
“This is a next point that has to be reviewed and it is totally unacceptable for us as a union to agree to such a practice. We are looking forward to a total change and consultation.”
However Elshot said that she left the meeting with a good feeling since the minister appeared to be willing and open for consultation and dialogue with the union on a variety of matters.

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