North America-Caribbean

published 19 February 2019 updated 13 March 2019

North America-Caribbean

Solidarity with US education unions fighting the governmental “zero tolerance” immigration policy

In September, EI formally joined the complaint of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), the National Education Association (NEA) and 14 other human rights organisations to the UN Human Rights Council on the “zero tolerance” immigration policy of the US Government, systematically and forcibly separating immigrant children from their parents for the purposes of prosecuting parents for “illegal entry” to the United States. EI denounced this policy as “a cruel and inhumane abuse against vulnerable families and their children that can be assimilated in some aspects to a form of torture”. According to AFT, more than 2,500 asylum-seeking children have been separated from their parents along the border between the United States and Mexico. Often, no communication takes place between parents and children following their separation; they do not know how to find each other or when they will be reunited. Once separated, parents risk being deported while their children remain in federal custody.

CUT Executive Meeting

The Caribbean Union of Teachers (CUT) held its Executive Meeting in St. George’s, Grenada, from 12-13 December 2018. The Executive Board is composed of the Elected Officers and one representative of each affiliate.

The meeting was opened by officials of the Grenada Union of Teachers and the Ministry of Education, as well as the CUT President.

Diverse sessions took stock of progress made by the organisation over the last six months and confirmed plans for the future. Participants agreed on the following activities: capacity development workshops for young trade union leaders; workshop for women leaders; workshop and development of protocol for communications in disaster events; signing of a new memorandum of understanding with EI; working sessions to finalise policies, protocols and guidelines for event management within CUT; and the Biennial Conference to be held from 4-10 August 2019 in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

Key discussions focused on the relationship with the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) and the ongoing battle to have teachers paid for marking CXC’s final exam.

The meeting also reviewed the 2017-2022 strategic plan and welcomed progress made towards the achievement of short-term goals. It underlined difficulties  in carrying out CUT activities in the absence of a person employed and dedicated to that work, and called for EI’s help.

Daniel Martin of the Canadian Teachers Federation (CTF), a special Guest at the Executive Meeting, made a presentation on the CUT/CTF partnership, highlighting the longstanding relationship between the two organisations. He stressed the important work CTF continues to carry out in the region, especially in the area of professional development.