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Gov’t officials blamed for strike

SCHOOL TALK: Lawyer Cecil McCarthy, QC, (left) makes a point to his client Principal Jeff Broomes and Commission of Enquiry Senior Counsel Milton Pierce.

Government officials, including the Ministry of Education, brought the January 2012 Alexandra teachers strike on themselves.

That’s the view of one of those who took industrial action, senior teacher Leslie Lett. The head of the school’s English Department said a failure to deal with a major grouse raised by Alexandra teachers represented by the Barbados Secondary Teachers Union, an allegation of a teacher not teaching a class for a term, caused the fallout.

He claimed this assertion, “spewed” by Principal Jeff Broomes at a December 2, 2011 awards ceremony at the school, was yet to be proven and that a failure to adequately deal with it caused teachers to withdraw their labour.

He was the latest witness to give evidence at the Commission of Enquiry into Alexandra, held today at the Wildey Gymnasium, Garfield Sobers Sports Complex. “I would say it was the unsatisfactory response from the Ministry (of Education) and the powers that be to specifically deal with what he had spewed at the December 2 awards ceremony,” he said.

Lett said neither the Ministry of Education nor the office of Chief Personnel Officer dealt with the problem “in a satisfactorily expeditious manner”. “They could have responded to us. We wrote a letter … to the CPO and only some weeks after

I understand we got a letter acknowledging receipt. Call us, have the Ministry there, let us see what is being done,” he told the commission.

Lett said he believed the way Broomes made the accusation against teacher Amaida Greaves was wrong and done in the wrong place.

“To my mind that is one of the things that made it very wrong. There was no report, there was no investigation, you just came and spewed it in the public, in front of students; the teacher was defenceless,” he said.

“It seems funny that something that is the most unprofessional and unethical thing that you had ever experienced in your entire career you write a report on it presumably on June 4 and you have said the ministry is famous for losing letters,” he said.

“Certainly, if indeed you want something done about it, wouldn’t you not follow it up if you saw nothing was being done? It is always my thinking to report a matter because you want something done about it.”

Lett said that as far as he knew the allegation against Greaves was questionable. “I was told that the representation made by the principal regarding the non teaching of a class by a teacher for an entire term was inaccurate. I was told this by the teacher, I was told this by the union executive,” he said.

“I know of no adverse reports the principal made to Mrs. Greaves.” (SC)

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