Tobago teachers win in court, George declares: Kelvin must fire Kelvin
Attorney Martin George is calling on THA Chief Secretary Kelvin Charles to remove himself as Secretary of Education.
This comes on the heels of a decision delivered in the High Court on Friday by Justice David Harris ordering the THA to immediately pay contract teachers all outstanding payments, plus interest.
The teachers throughout Tobago won a constitutional motion which they filed against the THA for their rights to all gratuity payments and money owed to them.
They claimed for a declaration of inequality of treatment. The teachers said the THA had treated them unequally, compared to the permanent teachers in Tobago, and also unequally as compared to contract teachers in Trinidad, by paying them less and not allowing them the same number of leave and benefits.
The teachers were represented by Martin George and Company.
At a press conference on Monday at his Bacolet office, George said: “We’re calling upon Mr Kelvin Charles in his capacity as the Chief Secretary, we’re calling upon him to discipline and further dismiss the Secretary for Education. The Secretary for Education in the THA is an epic failure and we want Mr Kelvin Charles to deal with that secretary, whoever he is.
“Have that secretary removed because that secretary is not doing his job properly. Because how could that secretary be comfortable sitting there, knowing that your own teachers, your own persons who go out daily to educate our children, they are not being paid their just due, so much so that the court has to now make an order against you, commanding you to pay them.”
George commended the 14 “brave” teachers “who have refused to accept whatever the THA felt it could dish out to them and get away with.”
He added, “Today, we say to the THA, enough is enough, and we say to the THA, pay your workers now, pay them their proper salaries, pay them their gratuities and their backpay and their increments, and pay them all that is due to them just as the court has ordered, and pay them immediately.”
Should these teachers not be paid as instructed, George is promising to “make mas” with the assembly for the Carnival season.
“If by the end of January 2020 these monies are not paid and settled, prepare for a wash of litigation because for this Carnival season, we’ll be making mas with the THA with repeated lawsuits.”
He said since this judgment in favour of the teachers, his office has been inundated with calls from other THA employees, who have said they are not being paid proper salaries and gratuities.
One of the victorious litigants, a teacher at the Pentecostal Light and Life Foundation High School, Nadia Phillips, stressed the case wasn’t just about money but about providing stability to the teachers.
“We have worked very hard, we’re all very, very qualified. We’ve done everything the (education) division has asked us, we’ve done everything that the (education) ministry has asked us to become teachers – well qualified. We do everything that any other teacher does… it’s about tenure, it’s about service.
“You’re working ten, 15 years and you have nothing to show; you cant go to the bank, you can’t buy a piece of land, so its really unfair that we are doing just the same job as anybody else but when we go to the division we’re treated like we’re the scum of the earth.”
In his judgement, Harris dismissed the claims of the teachers to be made permanent.
By: Stephon Nicholas