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Saint Lucia: teachers urge government to move forward on the collective agreement

The Saint Lucia Teachers’ Union (SLTU), together with other education unions, are exerting pressure on the government to negotiate in good faith and respond to educators’ legitimate demands.

“We are in situation where we do not have a collective agreement,” according to Saint Lucia Teachers’ Union (SLTU) President Julian Monrose.

Teachers and their unions in Saint Lucia want to move forward on many issues including:

  • Teachers marking exams must be paid for it;
  • Many school buildings are in poor conditions. This can lead to illness. Such education facilities need urgent repair;
  • Salary raises for teachers; and
  • Adequate public resources must be allocated to public schools and the education system.

In 2016, there was change of government and, since that time, it has not been possible for SLTU to engage in real, good-faith negotiations.

In November 2017, the education union submitted a proposal for negotiations on teacher working conditions. In May 2018, confronted with the lack of response, they further insisted on an answer.

In August 2018, a meeting was held between public authorities and SLTU, were union representatives  were able to present their demands. They have not,  however, received further reactions from the government.

In December 2018, the government sent SLTU a letter asking to forgo negotiations in exchange for a lump-sum payment of1,000 Caribbean dollars to each teacher. Teachers rejected that proposal.

On 11 March 2019, SLTU called a strike to protest the lack of bargaining and calling for real, proper negotiations.

On 12 March, teachers overwhelmingly stayed away from school, many reporting in sick.

“A meeting with public authorities was organised on 14 March as a result of the teacher action, and we were able to lay our demands out. The government agreed to get back to us within three weeks,” Monrose explained.

Highlighting that “every school on the island was affected, teachers were united in the effort and clearly demonstrated that they are extremely serious about their demands,” he concludes that “we are confident that, this time, the government will get back to us in the planned timeframe time”.