Claire Elshot honoured for Labour Day 2018

On May 1, 2018 – Labour Day – Mrs. Claire Elshot was one of the honorees. She was recognized as “Most Historic” for her leadership and  contribution of 25 years as President of the WITU, and for her defending the rights of the workers on Sint Maarten. She was also the first female president of her organization. 


WITU’s distribution of Disaster Relief funds after Hurricane Irma

The Windward Islands Teacher’s Union received via Bank Transfer from the Caribbean Union of Teachers (CUT) the sum of US $ 27,000.

The board of the WITU decided to distribute these funds equally to our membership because in our country everybody suffered damages from the ravage of Hurricanes Irma and Maria, which were less than two weeks following each other.
It was decided to organize an Open House on December 7th, 2017 with snacks and drinks and invite our members to come to our headquarters to receive a cheque from the disaster funds. The invitation was placed in the local newspaper “The Daily Herald” and was also done in a live Press Conference that would be transmitted on radio stations during their news broadcast by Madame President, Mrs. Claire Elshot.
The objective was also a “meet and greet”, where the members could interact and share their stories with others while waiting in line for their cheques they could also full in a survey from the St. Maarten Consumer Foundation on their damages and needs assessment based on the damages sustained to their personal household.

A total of 217 cheques were given out by our treasurer Mr. Robert Rawlins after he made sure that the teaching and non-teaching staff that WITU represent are paying  members with dues paid up to September 2017. Each member received of Nafls 200,- (equivalent to US $ 110, ) . From the feedback received, our members were happy and appreciated the fact that the WITU board had decided to put them first, even though WITU’s office had suffered some serious damages also.

On behalf of our members we would like to say a big thank you to Education International and Caribbean Union of Teachers for this contribution and for having us in their thoughts and prayers.


World Teachers Day 2017

Joint Message on the occasion of World Teachers’ Day 2017
Teaching in Freedom, Empowering Teachers
5 October 2017

Teachers are a critical foundation of every society’s long-term strength – providing children, young people and adults with the knowledge and skills they need to fulfil their potential.

But around the world, far too many teachers don’t have the freedom and support they need to do their vitally important jobs. That is why the theme of this year’s World Teachers’ Day –“Teaching in Freedom, Empowering Teachers” – reaffirms the value of empowered teachers and recognizes the challenges many encounter in their professional lives across the globe.

Being an empowered teacher means having access to high-quality training, fair wages, and continuous opportunities for professional development. It also means having the freedom to support the development of national curricula — and the professional autonomy to choose the most appropriate methods and approaches that enable more effective, inclusive and equitable education. Furthermore, it means being able to teach in safety and security during times of political change, instability, and conflict.

But in many countries, academic freedom and teacher autonomy are under pressure. For example, at the primary and secondary school levels in some countries, stringent accountability schemes have put enormous pressure on schools to deliver results on standardized tests, ignoring the need to ensure a broad-based curriculum that meets the diverse needs of students.

Academic freedom is critical for teachers at every level of education, but it is especially critical for higher-education teachers, supporting their ability to innovate, explore, and stay up-to-date on the latest pedagogical research. At the tertiary level, teachers are often employed on a fixed-term, contingency basis. This in turn can result in greater job insecurity, diminished career prospects, higher workload and lower wages – all of which can restrict academic freedom and undermine the quality of education that teachers can deliver.

Across all education levels, political pressure and business interests can curb the ability of educators to teach in freedom. Teachers living and working in countries and communities affected by conflicts and instability often face greater challenges, including rising intolerance, discrimination, and related restrictions on research and teaching.

This year marks the 20 year anniversary of the 1997 UNESCO Recommendation concerning the Status of Higher-Education Teaching Personnel, which complements the 1966 UNESCO/ILO Recommendation concerning the Status of Teachers. Together, these instruments constitute the main reference framework on the rights and responsibilities of teachers and educators. Both stress the importance of teacher autonomy and academic freedom in building a world in which education and learning are truly universal.

As the world works together to realize the vision of the Sustainable Development Goals, we appeal to our partners in governments and across the education and private sectors to commit to building a highly skilled, valued and empowered education workforce. This constitutes a critical path to realizing SDG 4, which envisions a world in which every girl, boy, woman and man has access to quality education and lifelong learning opportunities.

This means securing decent working conditions and fair wages for all teachers including at the tertiary level. It means providing teachers with training and development. It means increasing the number of quality teachers, especially in those countries with high numbers of untrained teaching personnel. It means removing unnecessary restrictions on research and teaching and defending academic freedom at all education levels. Finally, it means raising the status of teachers around the world in a way that honors and reflects the impact they have on the strength of society.

This World Teachers’ Day, join us in empowering teachers to teach in freedom so that, in turn, every child and every adult is free to learn – to the benefit of a better world.
Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO
Guy Ryder, Director-General of ILO
Anthony Lake, Executive-Director of UNICEF
Achim Steiner, Administrator of UNDP
Fred van Leeuwen, General-Secretary of Education International


Dear WITU members,

Please note the following: Hurricane Irma seriously damaged our offices, and our board members also suffered significant personal loss, including our President and Vice President.

To contact us, please call: 526-7850. If the call does not go through, be patient and keep trying as sometimes the signal is lost and we can receive no calls.

We appreciate your support, and please know that despite our losses, we are working on your behalf to make sure that your rights are respected, and you are treated fairly during this difficult period.

Stay strong Teachers!


May Day 6May Day 7

Happy Labour Day May 1

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“No extra day Emancipation Day 2017”?

“No extra day Emancipation Day 2017”?

On Wednesday, January 18th 2017, civil servants received a rude awakening when Government announced that “no extra day for Emancipation Day” would be granted this year. According to the press release, “Emancipation Day is celebrated annually on July 1st unless that day falls on a Sunday, in which case Emancipation Day is celebrated on the first next business day”. (source:…/Emancipation-Day-Public-Hol…)

Furthermore, a quick glance at the 2017 Public Holiday Schedule reveals that two holidays of significant cultural & historical importance to St. Martin people, namely Emancipation Day (Saturday July 1st 2017) and St. Martin’s Day (Saturday November 11th 2017), will fall on a Saturday. With that being said, are we to understand that there will be no extra day for St. Martin’s Day 2017 also?

Besides that, what would civil servants gain if Government maintains its current position to deny the extra day off on the first working day thereafter? In essence, it undoubtedly translates into two lost holidays for civil servants due to Emancipation Day and St. Martin’s Day falling on a Saturday.

Globally, various national holidays have been fixed to the first or last Monday of the month, regardless if the actual date of the Public Holiday falls on a Saturday or Sunday. From a local perspective, one example that quickly comes to mind is Constitution Day.

Constitution Day, initially observed in 2015, is fixed to the first Monday of October regardless of the actual day that the 10th falls on. For example, Monday October 12th 2015, Monday October 10th 2016, Monday October 9th 2017, Monday October 8th 2018.(source:…/Public-Holiday-Schedule.aspx)

It is important to note that October 10th, 2015 fell on a Saturday and was observed on the next working day. (i.e. Monday October 12th 2015) To be fair, last year’s Carnival Day a Saturday. Consequently, the Council of Ministers, in its collective wisdom, granted civil servants an extra day off on Tuesday, May 3rd 2016.

In contrast, no extra day was granted for Christmas Day since it fell on Saturday, December 25th, 2016. Instead, Boxing Day was observed on Monday, December 27th, 2016. The aforementioned observation sought to illustrate that the National Ordinance in question is not etched in stone.

Ultimately, the transference of a holiday to the next working day squarely with Government. With that being said, the aforementioned observations point to the need to possibly amend Article 23 of the National Ordinance to “Public holidays that fall on a Saturday and or Sunday is celebrated and or observed on the following Monday or the first next business day”.

Perhaps all that is required is some imagination, social dialogue among the relevant stakeholders, and the political will to amend the aforementioned Article 23 of the National Ordinance. In any case, to deny civil servants two full days simply because Emancipation Day and St. Martin’s Day are on a Saturday is disappointing, shortsighted and undesirable.

Riegnald “Bakari” Arrindell
General Secretary

Our Women’s Conference is almost here!! Sonesta Great Bay!!!

This Thursday and Friday are going to be awesome! Women! Come out and be empowered by this conference featuring powerful speakers!Women's Conference 2017

It’s coming! WITU’s Women’s Conference

WITU’s Status of Women’s Committee is organizing a Women’s Conference with the theme:Women's Conference 2017

“Women’s Economic Empowerment

in the Changing World of Work”