PHILIPSBURG:--- The Board of the Windward Islands Teachers Union (WITU) is astonished at the Council of Ministers’ (COM) sudden decision to grant additional vacation days to Teachers.
After a Board meeting of the WITU held on Monday afternoon, April 17th, 2023, President of WITU Stuart Johnson said: "It is remarkable how quickly and with sudden haste, the COM is able to handle certain ‘other’ matters, and when needed can have the opportunity to meet on weekends."
A concerned President Johnson emphasized that: "We have so many critical issues that need to be addressed, but continue to be ignored. It is noteworthy, that the COM can suddenly decide on extra vacation days while adjustment to salary scales, payment for DPE Summer School employees, and vacation allowance remain unresolved."
The discussion or even idea of days for teachers stemmed from the WITU, via a letter dated January 11, 2023, which was addressed to the Minister of Education, drs. Rodolphe Samuel and also during a subsequent meeting with members of the COM.
The original stance of the WITU remains, “The summer vacation period is simply too short, and it's the reason why we requested a complete adjustment to the vacation days overall. Additionally, WITU also stressed that we must be consulted when drafting all vacation schedules which must be in line with all current events and examinations.”
Based on the motivation in the recent press release of the Minister of ECYS, the actual reason COM gave dated April 15th2023 is, “the decision by COM is based on a recommendation that was made for compensation of our teachers, support staff and management due to their continued commitment to education during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Considering this is the reason why everyone in education should receive these additional days and not exclusively public education employees.
"What will happen to teachers and other staff at the subsidized school boards regarding their vacation days? Why wasn’t the vacation schedule for 2023/2024 itself simply not amended? Will the discrimination be another debacle like the disparity of the total number of vacation allowance payments between Public and Subsidized schools?" Johnson questioned.
Furthermore, Mr. Johnson added: "I know many individuals are gearing up for another parliamentary election. Therefore, I expected more substance, and follow-up from members of Parliament toward the teaching fraternity of St. Maarten. Since the last Parliamentary meeting with much grandstanding, the silence has been deafening."
"I remain readily available always to proactively address a number of critical matters in education such as but not limited to, the actual start of the reconstruction works at the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Primary School, the revision of the function book, and addressing the challenges in public schools," Johnson concluded.