News From Secretary...........


An evaluation seminar was held at Rajah Court on 19-21 February 1998 for all Ex-Co Members of STU. Representatives, mainly Chairmans or Secretaries, from all the 20 Branches attended. Essentially, the seminar was held to reflect on the past performance of the Union and to chart the future. One vital issue of discussion was the decision to implement the increase of membership monthly subscription from the present RM 2 to RM 5. The proposal on the increase of monthly subscription was actually put forward even as far back as the 1992 Biannual Delegates Conference.


In less than 2 months' time, Kuching Branch will be holding its Annual General Meeting, the 33rd AGM, marking its 33rd year in existence. Being the oldest Branch, it has gone through a lot of changes and performed many roles mostly for the betterment of the teaching service in Sarawak in particular and recently the improvements in the education service of Malaysia. The success of the STU in being what it is today, the largest Union in Sarawak and the only representation in the National Joint Staff Council (the highest negotiating body for teachers in the country), is no doubt partly a result of its many past and present capable and selfless leaders as well as the support from teachers who come forward to join us, many without any persuasion.

The proposal to increase the membership subscription from RM2 to RM5 was first put forward way back in 1994. In fact it was subsequently approved for implementation during the 1994 BDC, subject to a final balloting to seek the consensus of all members. Since then this has been a regular matter of discussion and deliberation in many later seminars and Exco meetings. Balloting was delayed as it was felt that the committee in charge needed time to prepare a proper action program to inform and convince all members of the need for the increase before they cast their votes. A major balloting exercise like this is costly so failure to get positive consensus would have great effect on the union. We hope that members see the seriousness and need for everyone to contribute a little more in subscription to make the union financially strong.

Many teachers are still not aware of the importance of being a member of the STU. Many of them are more concerned with what tangible benefits they could get in return from their RM2 monthly contributions. A union is different from a co-operative society in role and objectives. While the later is more of a profit making and sharing entity, a union's primary objectives are very much different. In recent years, teachers lament on the loss of status in the teaching profession and the dismal respect they get from the society and students. One reason is of course the relatively low pay given to teachers in comparison with their increasing workload and new responsibilities. This is a common phenomena nowadays in many developing countries - where income is the main yardstick of ones status in the society. However one should not dismiss another important factor I feel is the lack of unity among teachers. Many of our present predicaments and woes are the result of our disunity. About half of our teachers in the state are not members of any union. Many go through everyday of their lives complaining to each other of dissatisfactions about many things and not able to do anything about it while others endure in silence taking it as part of the job. Who therefore can we blame if society sees teachers as just another group of helpless and disunited sloggers, unable to stand up for what is right and apathetic towards the need for changes for the better? Is it not time we give all these a little more thought, have a little more faith in our abilities? Let us look beyond the boundaries of our schools and think of ourselves more as part of a bigger and very important community and getting together, supporting each other through the union, and negotiating for a better system for the future of our children. If we do not take the initiative to help ourselves, nobody can. For too long, many of our colleagues have been too complacent. To them, union or no union, we still get our pay. Sadly, it is this attitude that puts us in the present circumstances we are in today. OKS