Far from over
by Shawn Cumberbatch and Donna Sealy
The Alexandra School industrial relations dispute appears far from over and is set to return to national prominence.
Following Barbados TODAY’s exclusive publication of the Commission of Enquiry’s recommendations yesterday, including the removal of veteran educator Jeff Broomes as Principal of the St. Peter institution, all eyes are now on Prime Minister Freundel Stuart.
But the early signal from the heads of two unions involved in the matter, Barbados Secondary Teachers Union President Mary Redman, who is representing several Alexandra teachers, and National Union of Public Workers President Walter Maloney, Broomes’ representative, was that the two would continue their quest for different outcomes.
Redman told Barbados TODAY she and her union were “very satisfied” with the contents of the report published last evening by this newspaper, but said she, members of her executive and Alexandra teachers were yet to see the document produced by sole commissioner Frederick Waterman.
The trade unionist disclosed the BSTU was keen to meet with Stuart to discuss “unfinished industrial relations aspects of this whole exercise that still have to be addressed”.
“So we are hoping that he will meet with us soon to do that and we are very grateful and happy that our cause has been vindicated and most especially too that people in Barbados will recognise and respect that,” she said.
Maloney, on the other hand, while waiting to learn if Government would accept any or all of Waterman’s 15 main recommendations, intended to make sure Broomes’ rights were protected.
On Sunday the BSTU management team and its members at the Alexandra School will be meeting with their counsel, attorney-at-law Hal Gollop, to discuss the report “at length”, Redman said.
“Generally the BSTU is very satisfied with the reported outcome. Our attorney was recently given a copy, but he has been out of the island and we have had no contact with him since then. He was given the report in confidence and asked to maintain that confidentiality so we were totally unaware of what was in it until this morning,” she stated.
“Of course he (Gollop) was asked to maintain that confidentiality while awaiting an announcement from the Prime Minister so (when) we saw what was in Barbados TODAY that was our first inkling of what to look forward to in terms of recommendations.
“We are happy that the teachers have been vindicated as indicated by the recommendations we have seen so far, and of course we expect that the specific officers and agencies of the public service will act expeditiously on the recommendations, especially those that would allow our members at Alexandra to work in a peaceful environment,” she added.
Maloney said it was now up to the Prime Minister and his administration to determine how they would proceed with Waterman’s report, but he made it clear Broomes would be fully represented by the NUPW.
“It is the Prime Minister’s report and the Government doesn’t have to slavishly follow the recommendations from the report, but it is their report so it’s up to them,” he said.
“We can’t act previous in going out there to make a decision because we don’t know what is it that the Prime Minister is going to say. We have to wait until he holds his Press conference for us to make a comment.
“But what we will say is that we will make certain that the rights of our member are protected; that is all we can do,” the NUPW head added.
Redman said Alexandra teachers had “worked professionally in other very, very difficult circumstances for a very long time and it is time now for them to get some reprieve and we are hoping that is done soon in terms of effecting the recommendations.”