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The Alexandra School controversy between teachers and their principal Jeff Broomes will raise its ugly head again this week.

Fifty one days after the Government-appointed Commission of Enquiry into the school ended, human resource managers from across Barbados will tackle that employee-management rift that sparked strike action by some members of the Barbados Secondary Teachers Union, deprived students of being taught, and saw the intervention of Prime Minister Freundel Stuart.

When the Human Resource Management Association of Barbados Inc opens its 15th annual conference at Savannah Hotel on Thursday, the Alexandra School affair will be one of the first issues to be examined.

Speaking to Barbados TODAY this morning at the Grande Salle of the Central Bank of Barbados, where the association received three sponsorship cheques towards the staging of the two-day conference, President of the HRMAB, Wendell Cumberbatch said the Alexandra School dispute would take the form of a panel discussion titled Lessons From The Alexandra School.

Cumberbatch said the panel, comprising Principal of the Graydon Sealy Secondary School, Matthew Farley, and retired Permanent Secretary and Chief Labour Officer, Elsworth Young, will be moderated by Dr. Akhentoolove Corbin.

“It is going to be an interesting topic because we’re going to be looking at it from a holistic point of view and not necessarily whether Mr Broomes was wrong or right or whether the Barbados Secondary Teachers Union was incorrect.

“But there are lessons to be learnt in terms of leadership and leadership styles and proper industrial relations practices. Those are the things that we are going to be looking at,” he added.

The second day, the president added, the contentious Employment Rights Act will be discussed.

Cumberbatch noted that this piece of legislation, which has also been approved by Parliament, but not yet proclaimed, would have an impact on employers.

“Most employers seem to think that it favours employees and that it’s going to be detrimental to employers, but the truth of the fact is that, something like that is needed and basically if all employers follow the act and make sure that there is compliance then they should not have any problems,” he said.

“The problems that I see happening is that for small and medium sized enterprises, there are going to have problems in that they don’t have the resources available in terms of key persons like human resource officers to help them navigate through the act and they may need to have consultants come in,” added Cumberbatch.

He disclosed that his organisation was partnering with the Small Business Association to offer its expertise and advice, in some instances, free of charge, so they would be able to become compliant when the legislation is proclaimed.

There is also a session linking business strategy with HR strategy, which he suggested was a key topic in today’s environment, “because we need to understand how HR needs to align itself with business strategy”.

The theme of the conference is Conquering The Challenges — Human Resources’ Role in Transforming the Economy. (EJ)

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