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Teachers’ pay cut

Fresh trouble is brewing between the Ministry of Education and unionized teachers.

A day after Barbados Union of Teachers (BUT) President Pedro Shepherd told Barbados TODAY that “things are looking up” after a month-long impasse, a salary deductions move by the ministry threatens to tear the two sides apart.

Pedro Shepherd & Ronald Jones

BUT President Pedro Shepherd (left) and Minister of Education Ronald Jones (right).

A letter from the Ronald Jones-led ministry, dated May 6 and signed by the Permanent Secretary June Chandler, states that “in accordance with Section 3.3.2 of the General Orders, you are hereby advised that the salaries of those officers, who attended without permission, the Barbados Union of Teachers meetings held on April 29 and May 4, 2016, respectively, should be proportionately abated for the month of May, 2016.”

A copy of the correspondence issued by the Ministry to the BUTs members, numbering 2,000.

A copy of the correspondence issued by the ministry to the BUTs membership, numbering 2,000.

When contacted this morning, Shepherd said he had been made aware of the development, but was not ready to comment publicly on the matter, which also affects members of the BUT’s sister union, the Barbados Secondary Teachers Union (BSTU).

Today, BSTU President Mary Redman, who is on sick leave, also deferred comment on the matter.


However, Barbados TODAY understands that some union representatives are hopping mad over the development, pointing out that it has never been the practice for trade unions to seek permission to hold meetings, which is the right of members.

One angry official outrightly condemned the ministry’s action, saying it was not only “ridiculous” but a “backward step”.

The official also suggested that unless the letters were rescinded, there could be a full blown national strike over the issue,  which has ramifications for all trade unions. The senior official said the move also goes against the philosophy of the Social Partnership between Government, trade unions and employers.

Ironically, it was just last week that Jones vowed from the floor of Parliament to do “everything decent” to bring an end to the bitter public feud with the country’s teachers.

The recent impasse was sparked by an April 14 violent incident involving a teacher and a student at The Ellerslie Secondary School. Major Errol Brathwaite, principal of the school, met with BUT President Pedro Shepherd and BSTU President Mary Redman immediately afterwards but the union says it is still in the dark on the issue even though the Minister has received a formal report.

The recent impasse was sparked by an April 14 violent incident involving a teacher and a student at The Ellerslie Secondary School. Major Errol Brathwaite, principal of the school, met with BUT President Pedro Shepherd and BSTU President Mary Redman immediately afterwards but Shepherd says they are still in the dark on the issue even though the minister has received a formal report.

Just yesterday, Shepherd also spoke in a very conciliatory tone as he reported to Barbados TODAY on efforts to repair the damage caused by the impasse, which had degenerated into calls for Jones’ removal.

The BUT head confirmed that meetings had been taking place between representatives of his union and the Permanent Secretary, which he said “have been offering some promise”.

However, he said the union was still awaiting an “urgent” meeting with Jones as they seek resolution of 27 issues affecting the educators.

These include violence in schools; safety and health issues; school closure and policy relating to water outages and stench; summer work programme; terms leave; study leave; information technology coordinators; punctuality and absenteeism; early childhood coordinators; teacher service commission; appointment of temporary teachers; teacher evaluation; corporal punishment; mobile technology policy and replacement of technology in schools; as well as issues involving a number of secondary schools, including Parkinson and Alma Paris.

15 Responses to Teachers’ pay cut

  1. Prince Trémaine
    Prince Trémaine May 21, 2016 at 12:20 pm

    Wunna being unreasonable as hell now, don’t show up for work and expect to be paid. Have a bloody seat.

    Actually no, let the Union pay you…..Wait you didn’t have their permission to abdicated your responsibility. smh

    • Prince Trémaine
      Prince Trémaine May 21, 2016 at 12:28 pm

      This is the same thing that happened at Alexandra 10 years ago.

  2. Lynn Lucas
    Lynn Lucas May 21, 2016 at 12:34 pm

    I don’t understand the “without permission” !!!!!

  3. Angela Maria
    Angela Maria May 21, 2016 at 1:06 pm

    Teachers take the cut and let the union subsidize it. Small issue.

  4. Maria May 21, 2016 at 1:12 pm

    I thought the teachers were entitled to days off with pay. It does not make any sense. seems like retaliation to me.

  5. Sue Donym May 21, 2016 at 1:35 pm

    “Boss, I’m leaving, no emergency, no prior agreement, nobody covering the shift and like it or not I’ll be on my own business that could easily be done outside working hours. And you better not dock my pay”. Sounds right. Everyone’s contract should be that sweet.

  6. dave May 21, 2016 at 1:43 pm

    Is June Chandler the Permanent Secretary or not ? The letter says ” for Permanent Secretary” – at the signature.

    One thing I find out about some persons though is that they are not loving and seem to be always in a punitive state of mind. looking to punish somebody. Why try to cause unnecessary confusion to waste people’s time with ignorance now ?

    Hardnosed and sticking to so called rules is the Achilles tendon of some so-called ‘bosses’ . The law was made for man not man for the law. There is a certain way that you administer the Law or rules for that matter. The rules are there yes but you must show discretion and take extentuating circumstances into consideration and understand that you are dealing with human beings. You dont just do things ‘cart blanche’- steupse !!! Wha’ Barbados coming to nuh ??? These same hardnosed people always want some kind of help and favour done but can never help anybody : always vexx like somewhere hurting them and always in a bad mood as if they are against the world- no love at all -the worst . Boy the Public Service is like hell to work in ever-since, ‘men’ have been emasculated

  7. Queenie ShaSha
    Queenie ShaSha May 21, 2016 at 1:45 pm

    Sometimes money ain’t everything….I’m sure d 1sain can’t buy health or peace of mind on the job which teachers don’t get….its a bullying move and shows that the slavery mentality is still around…. Many other ppl strike for environment concerns late pay and bad treatment by their pay docked too…keep the money….money can’t can’t buy .health… Money can’t buy respect… I’m sure those teachers have saving accounts and partners that can give them the 1sain….#pettttyyyyy….Barbadians continue to be silenced but u can’t silence the way the kids are turning out…that same money will have build a new prison or boot camp

  8. David Gibbs May 21, 2016 at 3:11 pm

    The BUT publicly and repeatedly claimed that the meeting in Queens park was not industrial action. They said that it was just a gathering of teachers to discuss issues. In other words the teachers opted to abandon their posts and hold a meeting. They didn’t not seek permission for the Ministry, there was no break down in negotiations nothing. Thy just didn’t not turn up for work. and remember all like not they are presumably still on a work to rule – doing only the mere and bare absolute necessities. At least i haven’t heard them rescind that decision which was also made publicly.

  9. Coralita May 21, 2016 at 8:54 pm

    What happened to the BUT’s strike fund?

    Pedro Shepherd you called the people off their jobs because of the issue which occurred at Elerslie School. Prior to that, even though there are issues to iron out you didn’t call them out. They did not show up for work, they did not produce, so pay them.

  10. Loretta Griffith May 22, 2016 at 5:32 am

    I do not believe my tax dollars should be used to pay any one who goes on strike willy nilly. They should be paid by their union.
    I hope someone comes along who has the political will to bell the cat.
    It is time this country returns to its pristine state morally. I would love to see a Barbados where we have respect for each other and not what we get nowadays and call enlightenment.
    Whoever has the political will to try and turn this country around for the better has my vote.

  11. Sheron Inniss May 22, 2016 at 9:04 am

    No work, no pay. Teachers in the public sector do not work for themselves. All tax payers help to pay their salaries. Tell the union to pay them. Steupse

    You have to know how, why and when to do something.

    I want the subventions that the unions are given stopped too.

    Self employed who know that if I do not produce and get my product sold that I am up _hit street.

  12. Sherlock Holmes. May 22, 2016 at 7:07 pm

    Dave please turn off that silly switch please,man turn it off!!!!!

  13. Carson C Cadogan May 22, 2016 at 8:30 pm

    Not one red taxpayers cent.

    No work, no pay.

    As simple as that!!!!

  14. Carson C Cadogan May 22, 2016 at 8:34 pm

    This guy Pedro seems to know very little.

    With these teachers constantly refusing to work saying that they are attending Teachers Union meetings, they are also jeopardizing their pension rights.

    The Govt. could invoke sections of the Law which would see those who refused to work getting no pensions.


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