You’re wrong BUT, says retired trade unionist

A veteran retired trade union leader is contending that the umbrella Barbados Union of Teachers (BUT) does not have a leg on which to stand in its latest feud with the Ministry of Education.

The BUT wants the ministry to rescind a letter advising teachers who attended recent union meetings that their pay would be docked.

However, the trade unionist, who requested anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the issue, told Barbados TODAY this afternoon, that the BUT’s leadership was being misled into believing the ministry had acted illegally.

He explained that while the teachers bargaining agent had been relying on the General Orders for guidance in this matter, they were cheating themselves by not reading the Public Service Act.

“I understand they say it is the General Orders, but really and truly it isn’t the General Orders. They got to look at the Public Service Act Schedule 2, and they got a provision 15 (1) that states if you are away from work and it isn’t for illness or something of that kind, or with the permission of the Permanent Secretary, then the Permanent Secretary can dock it [pay],” he said.

The respected former trade unionist recalled the Sanitation Service Authority (SSA) workers’ pay being docked earlier this year after their participation in a demonstration held by the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW).

He said the union had supplemented the SSA workers’ pay, “because that is why you have a strike fund”.

“But as far as I concerned whoever lawyer advising [BUT President] Pedro Shepherd, they better look at the Public Service Act and not just the General Orders. We tend to forget something. The same way we have a right to strike, a right to go slow, the employers got the same right too. So I could shut you out. I could do all uh dem things. You take action, I can counter by doing all
of those kind uh things. I can dock yuh pay. It is written there in the Public Service Act under Schedule 2,” the retired trade union leader emphasized.

He also sent a reminder to the BUT regarding the holding of meetings for
its members.

“Union meetings all over the world are held in the workers’ time. They have no God-given right to have union meetings during working hours. It is at the discretion of the employer. It is different if the executive wanted to meet. The Government grants them permission that they can meet and hold their meetings. But when you come to a body, unless the employer gives the okay, you in trouble,” he pointed out.

“Every time you look ‘round, you holding a 12 o’clock meeting or two o’clock meeting. You gine cause the employer to think then, that it is a form of industrial action that you are taking. You disrupting the flow of the business,” he added.

News of the decision to dock the teachers’ pay came a day after Shepherd had told Barbados TODAY last week, “things are looking up” after a month-long impasse.

A letter from the Ronald Jones-led ministry, dated May 6 and signed by the Permanent Secretary June Chandler, stated 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”.

Yesterday Shepherd deemed the move to be illegal, while calling on the ministry to rescind the decision. Other union representatives are also hopping mad over the development, pointing out that it had never been the practice for trade unions to seek permission to hold meetings, which is the right of members.

One angry official 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.

It was just about two weeks ago 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.

emmanueljoseph@barbadostoday.bb

9 Responses to You’re wrong BUT, says retired trade unionist

  1. dave May 24, 2016 at 2:00 am

    O my gosh -I remember Dennis Clarke as General Secretary of the NUPW . Clarkie was a good General Secretary who never sought to shut the country down or attack the Government. Clarkie was a good boy that the country rewarded with an award because he was never contentious

    Reply
  2. dave May 24, 2016 at 2:33 am

    The former Trade Union Boss need to tell the country why the Government was not challenged in relation to appointments in the Public Service and the fact that the Government has ignored the said Public Service Act when it comes to vacancies in the Public Service. When Government fails to do the right thing, it is tolerated and when Government continues to do the right thing, it is accommodated. Two Barbadoses in truth -Ah tell yuh !!!

    Reply
  3. 3rdsun May 24, 2016 at 7:39 am

    The main bone of contention is the holding of meetings during school hours, which I always believed is wrong. I was in the union at one of the biggest private employers and we never held meeting during work hours. That union was always professional and knew protocols. These union bosses nowadays need to learn the proper protocols.

    Reply
  4. Natalie Murray May 24, 2016 at 8:37 am

    Shame on this veteran Trade Unionist who is now the government mouth piece. I guess his “back is not against the wall” anymore. I WOULD like to know if he is a government consultant now.
    You sold out the workers as a General Secretary and even in retirement. Smh

    Reply
  5. David Gibbs May 24, 2016 at 9:16 am

    This is such a commonsense thing, that I dont know why BUT president is allowing himself to be misled. I mean someone he expect to call out the entire teaching fraternity at 10 o’clock in Queens Park, spend four and five hours away from work, announce that the teachers are on a work-to-rule and not doing any extra duties and expect that it will be business as usual – no consequences. The employer must not respond? Perhaps he though that just because he stated that it was not industrial action that that absolved the Union. Does not work that way. But when you start wrong you end wrong. His best bet is to stop making press statements and threats, meet quietly with the Minister/PS and see if they can come to some amicable solution. But his problem is that he may have burnt all of his bridges and use up all of his good will with the Ministry. I am increasingly thinking that, he is simply ill-suited for this job.

    Reply
  6. dave May 24, 2016 at 10:26 am

    Natalie Murray -You are so right. And to add , we would like to point the former Trade Union Leader to the fact that there are 200 Policeman in acting positions. Ask that former leader to comment on that sordid situation. Then ask him about the many public servants that he failed to get appointments for and he retired and left the mess and now talking a truck load . Dont stop at attacking the BUT leader –go the whole hog and put everything in perspective.

    Reply
  7. dave May 24, 2016 at 10:28 am

    The former Trade Union Boss need to tell the country why the Government was not challenged in relation to appointments in the Public Service and the fact that the Government has ignored the said Public Service Act when it comes to vacancies in the Public Service. When Government fails to do the right thing, it is tolerated and when Government continues to do the WRONG thing, it is accommodated. Two Barbadoses in truth -Ah tell yuh !!!

    Reply
  8. Carson C Cadogan May 24, 2016 at 11:15 am

    This new crop of Trade Union “Mis-Leaders” leave a lot to be desired.

    All they are interested in is driving around Barbados in Mercedes Benz and BMW’s at the workers expense.

    Reply
  9. Sue Donym May 24, 2016 at 11:36 am

    Make adult choices, accept adult consequences.
    Maybe I am oversimplifying, but perhaps teachers by the nature of their jobs are accustomed to calling the shots and having everyone fall into line. Life outside the classroom works a little different. Consider this your lesson time and move on.

    Reply

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