War front

Mary Redman addresses BSTU members today.
Mary Redman addresses BSTU members today.

If the transfers of teachers from the Alexandra School was a way to frustrate and instil fear into the Barbados Secondary Teachers’ Union, it has not succeeded.

Furthermore, President of the union, Mary-Anne Redman declared this morning at the Annual General Meeting held at the Queen’s College School in Husbands, St. James, that the “war” will go on.

She noted too that as a united organisation their immediate energies would be focussed towards the Public Service Commission, which was the entity that authorised what she described as the “unprecedented, unconscionable and vindictive” transfers of an estimated half of the union’s membership from the school earlier this year.

“We are forced to ask ourselves: How can persons purporting to be doing the Government’s duties and asking the most superior agent of the employers not understand their moral and legal duties to meet with the legitimate and recognised trade union? A union that ask for a meeting to address concerns of persons to whom that same commission have negatively impacted.

“How in 2013, with the experience of all that has gone before in this Alexandra situation and gotten us to this point, can the importance of effective and timely communication and respectful and full consultation not be understood, not be appreciated and not seemed to be practised in an entity as important as the Public Service Commission? A commission which supposedly has the professional welfare of over 25,000 public servants in hand,” she said.

The president added that two letters asking for a meeting to discuss the transfers were sent to the PSC but they continued to be denied†such a meeting.

Redman reaffirmed to her members that the transfers would be addressed and encouraged them to continue their support.

The newly re-elected president said: “And so as a union we must be ready to fight this war – war that they have declared. We must fight the war against those Government officials and public officers at our level who seek to deny member their basic human and trade union right – the right to be heard and represented by their legitimate and lawful agent.

“We have to rail against those who would seek to victimise and punish us for demanding those rights. We have to be unafraid to identify with, support and rally around each other and our union for what is due constitutionally and legally through our collective agreements, costumes and practises. There can be no surrendering our position when it is clear what the motives are of those who would seek to break us.

“If the intention is to be break us, then we have to stay and show that they are wrong, that they will not succeed. As teachers, we have to demonstrate that we are professionals and as productive persons in this country, who perform one of the most important functions on a daily basis in this society, that we have to be respected.

“Our unions that represent our interests must also be respected. That is the clear and unequivocal message that must be sent. That message can only be sent if it is known that as a profession, as a union we are ready to do all that is necessary to ensure that our rights are not trampled. We must be ready to harness all our resources in a focussed and committed way towards that end,” said Redman.

She further added that the Alexandra School affair, though it put them through the ringer, also made them more united as a union, since it showed their strength and worth and brought increased membership to the association.†(KC)

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