BSTU hints at possible industrial action
Classes at three Government-run secondary schools could be further disrupted at the beginning of next term if officials of the Ministry of Education fail to meet with the Barbados Secondary Teachers Union (BSTU) to discuss recent environmental challenges.
BSTU President Mary Redman issued this warning this morning during her address at the union’s Annual General Meeting in which she zeroed in on the problems at Combermere School, Springer Memorial Secondary School and The Lodge School.
“I am putting the Ministry of Education on notice that if meetings are not scheduled to discuss arrangements for next term at Combermere, Springer and the Lodge School, then the start of the new term may not be as smooth as we in the union may like it to be,” she told the gathering in the assembly hall of Queen’s College.
Environmental problems, the source of which remains unclear, resulted in the closure of Combermere earlier this month, while students at Springer were sent on early Easter holiday following complaints that thick layers of dust originating at the construction site of a new reservoir east of the school made it difficult for pupils and teachers.
Redman added that even as Government continued to spend millions of dollars to upgrade Lodge School in St John, mould had already begun to appear on the walls in several departments.
Addressing the longstanding environmental issues at Combermere, the union boss complained about overuse of the school.
“The school is one that never rests. The school is used on weekends; after school by sports groups and it is used on Sundays for religious worship. Combermere is used as a camping ground building during the holidays, it is used for fashion shows and sometimes for fetes. Under these circumstances the toilet facilities which are woefully inadequate are overused.”
Redman noted that the student roll at the Waterford, St Michael institution had more than doubled since the building was constructed around 1958, pointing out that the approximately 600 female students were forced to share just five toilets.
The BSTU boss recalled that part of the conditions under which teachers returned to school was the understanding that there would be additional toilet facilities provided for the girls.
“We recognized that the construction of additional washroom facilities for the girls would not have involved an increase in the size of the school plant. The girls’ washroom had enough room in them to accommodate at least three more stalls,” Redman explained. (NC)