by Donna Sealy
All Mary Redman and the Barbados Secondary Teachers’ Union want is a little respect.
Actually, she wants more than that and this afternoon she spelt out their expectations while addressing about 200 members of the trade union during a meeting in the Hugh Springer Auditorium at the Barbados Workers’ Union headquarters.
For almost 30 minutes, the trade union leader outlined the events for the past three weeks involving the transfer of teachers from Alexandra School, noting that the union had always accepted the authority of the public service commission to transfer teachers and reiterated they were questioning the “unprecedented scale and manner” of the shifts and not the fact that teachers had been moved.
“This situation has serious trade union and professional implications so we question the reason for the method and the reasonableness of the transfers …,” Redman asserted.
She informed the wider body drawn primarily from the older secondary schools that while some of their members who were transferred to other schools had reported for duty and had written to the CPO stating they were represented by the BSTU they simply wanted to meet and talk.
“We have written to the ministry twice requesting meeting with them and it is instructive to note that we had to write twice to request meetings. At a meeting of CTUSAB, both BAPPSS and BUT said that they were invited by the said the Ministry of Education to attend separate meetings but the BSTU had to write and requests…
“We have also written two letters to the CPO requesting a meeting. We’ve written three letters to the Prime Minister asking for a meeting. We’ve written to and had a meeting with CTUSAB. We’ve written to the PS [in the] Ministry of the Civil Service and the Chief Labour Officer. We’ve also sought international support from Education International and the Caribbean Union of Teachers…
“We’re yet to understand why persons are hesitant to meet with us. Why the CPO and or the Public Service Commission had not set a date for a meeting. Besides the two letters I have said on numerous occasions in the media that we are seeking a meeting. If the PM wants, as he stated, the university graduates involved to come to a resolution, then why are they not acting in accordance with his wishes by facilitating the prerequisite forum to achieve resolution. …,” she said.
Redman pointed out that the failure of the CPO to meet with them last year had led them to take strike action.
The trade unionist also spoke about what they perceived to be “discriminatory treatment” against them “because the CPO had met with Mr. Broomes’ representatives and given that he was one person in the matter and they were representing “almost 16” they should have a meeting as well.
She also raised questions about the action taken.
“Is it also a coincidence that the majority of our members who have been transferred to newer secondary or BUT schools where the numbers of BSTU members are very small and therefore the influence of the BSTU not as significant as it could be.
“Do you think that the fact that Alexandra is not a BSTU stronghold is a coincidence? Are you beginning to think union busting and calculated attempts to weaken and derail the BSTU? Why such behaviour you may ask?
“When last have you heard of any other teachers’ union in this country publicly criticising anything that this present administration has done in relation to education? When last have you heard them stand up for the rights in this country? Are the answers getting clearer for you?” Redman said.
Advisor Patrick Frost told members that teachers on sick leave were sick and also that the union would not let them down. (DS)