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Sunday 26 January 2020
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Tobago teachers win in court, George declares: Kelvin must fire Kelvin

Attorney Martin George, seated at the head of the table, with former and current contract teachers at a press conference on Monday at George's office in Bacolet. - KINNESHA GEORGE
Attorney Martin George, seated at the head of the table, with former and current contract teachers at a press conference on Monday at George's office in Bacolet. - KINNESHA GEORGE

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.

Attorney Martin George wants Chief Secretary Kelvin Charles to strip himself of the education portfolio. -

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.

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