Unions at odds

by Donna Sealy and Shawn Cumberbatch

Vere Parris

Fresh differences have emerged between two unions whose members have been affected by this week’s transfers at the Alexandra School.

While the leadership of the Barbados Secondary Teachers Union prepared to rally support among its members at “various” schools tomorrow as it maintained its opposition to “the unprecedented nature” of the reassignments, their counterpart representing secondary school principals said there was in fact “precedence” for the changes and that its members were prepared to “make the changes as smooth as possible”.

The BSTU is representing more than a dozen of the teachers transferred from Alexandra and some of those reassigned from 16 other schools to the St. Peter institution effective Monday, and the Barbados Association of Principals of Public Secondary Schools represents affected principals Jeff Broomes and Orson Alleyne.

BAPPSS broke its silence on the issue today in a statement signed by President Vere Parris.

In it the Combermere School principal compared previous transfers involving St. George Secondary in 1996 and St. Leonard’s Boys to the current Alexandra situation.

“BAPPSS recognises that an attempt has been made to rectify the untenable situation that has been ongoing at the Alexandra School. The Public Service Commission has effected teacher transfers across the secondary education system, with the majority originating at the Alexandra School,” BAPPSS noted.

“Schools accommodate new teachers annually, every term in some cases, as teachers go on long leave, maternity leave and study leave. Students are therefore often required to adjust to new teachers, even without transfers. All will be done at the level of principals to make the changes as smooth as is possible.

“With regard to the transfer of principals, appropriate audience will be sought with a view to clarifying contract issues, but BAPPSS stands ready to assist fellow principals with inherent challenges,” it added.

But as Alexandra students returned to class this morning, many of them to be instructed by 18 new teachers, the BSTU was maintaining its stance against the transfers.

Speaking after a meeting at the union’s headquarters, President Mary Redman told Barbados TODAY that today’s session was long, but productive.

She said she expected the union’s executive members would continue their discussions tonight towards their plans for tomorrow and Friday.

Redman also reported that the transferred Alexandra teachers who are not on sick leave were at the union today to hear what their legal options were.

“We, the executive officers, are having a meeting tomorrow. We will be going to various schools to sensitise our members and bring teachers up to speed because we are looking to have a full meeting of our membership on Monday,” she said. donnasealy@barbadostoday.bb; shawncumberbatch@barbadostoday.bb

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