Union tributes on passing of top Caribbean education unionist Roustan Job

published 13 March 2020 updated 24 March 2020

Education International has been saddened to learn of the death of Roustan Job, an outstanding education trade unionist from Trinidad and Tobago. Job relentlessly fought for teachers’ improved working conditions, professionalism, and autonomy in his region and worldwide.

Job began his teaching career in Tobago in 1974, teaching at both primary and secondary levels. He also served at many levels within the Trinidad and Tobago Unified Teachers’ Association (TTUTA), from Staff Representative of his school to Third Vice-President and, eventually, President of TTUTA in 2007.

He also proudly represented his union at the Caribbean Union of Teachers (CUT). He served as Third Vice President of the CUT from 2003-2005, and as First Vice President from 2005-2007. In 2007, Job became CUT President.

Called for improved status of teachers

At a national level, Job was an advocate for increased esteem for the profession of teaching. In a 2012 speech, for example, he urged the Government to show more respect for teachers. The Government “must wake up and value its teachers,” he said. “Our teachers must be physically and mentally and financially fit [and] comfortable as they dispense their duties.”

He also insisted that teachers must be regarded as allies rather than adversaries. “Our leaders must recognise that education will always be the most powerful force for positive change in Trinidad and Tobago. The world's finite natural resources are diminishing and the only resource we have is human capital,” Job stressed.

He continued his efforts towards developing the teaching profession in the Caribbean during his valued membership of Education International’s Executive Board from 2011 to 2013.

Exceptional leader

On 12 March, Antonia Tekah-De Freitas, TTUTA President, paid tribute to Job in an official union statement. “Roustan, as he preferred to be called, was the teachers’ ‘Caribbean Man’. His passion for life, family, local culture, and his union could be felt in everything he said and did. The nation has lost a great man. TTUTA has lost an exceptional leader.”

EI: Champion for solidarity

Education International (EI) also acknowledged Job’s many contributions. “He was the right leader at the right time,” said General Secretary David Edwards. “He was a vocal and stalwart defender of union rights and civil rights. He bravely called out and clashed openly with government leaders who wanted obedient teachers following orders instead of professionals with autonomy and voice.”

Edwards also remembered that, within Education International and his region, Job was “a champion for solidarity with Haiti and key in helping the CUT establish a disaster-preparedness strategy.

“He was a friend and brother to us all. He will be sorely missed,” he concluded.

Education International expresses its most heartfelt condolences to Roustan’s relatives, friends, and community.

Listen to Job talk about his union: