Union threatens to escalate protests against docked pay
What began as a small demonstration Monday looks set to escalate tomorrow as the Barbados Union of Teachers (BUT) steps us protest action against the docking of members’ pay earlier this year.
The general membership of the union is expected to be called out to join the executive body which staged a protest Monday morning on the playing field of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, a stone’s throw away from the Ministry of Education.
And BUT President Pedro Shepherd threatened that unless the issue is resolved by September 1, he will take further action come September 5 when the new term starts for teachers.
The union boss announced the plan for intensified action to Barbados TODAY while leading the first phase of protest action that began at 9 a.m.
The salaries of teachers were docked during May, June and July this year, after the educators attended two meetings called by the union on April 29 and May 4.
Shepherd said the union’s executive took to the streets this morning to emphasize its disgust with the way the Ministry of Education was dealing with the issue.
The BUT executive members stood on the pavement on Belmont Road, St Michael, holding placards that carried messages such as, “Teachers’ Mortgages Lapsed, Meanwhile . . . The Minister Overseas Wukin Up”; “Treat Teachers With Respect”; “Restore Teachers’ Salaries Now!!!”; “A Man’s Salary Is His Property”; “Trade Union Movement At Risk”; “Ministry’s Actions Unfair and Discriminatory”; and “Salary Deduction Reasoning Flawed”.
Shepherd said several meetings with senior personnel from the Ministry of Education and Prime Minister Freundel Stuart on the issue, had failed to produce a result favourable to the union and the teachers.
He said the union would be relentless in pursuit of teachers’ interests.
“The BUT is going to keep this matter on the front burner. This is probably the first time in the history of the union that we have had to use our summer holidays to come and bring issues to the fore,” the BUT president said.
“If it takes coming out during the summer holidays we are prepared to do it. We have a responsibility to our members. There are over 700 members of the union whose salaries have been docked to the tune of $335 in some cases. Some persons had their mortgage payments docked. So this is a serious matter and we have to fight it to the end.”
Shepherd gave union members the assurance that he and his executive would be on the picket line tomorrow from 9 a.m. until noon.
Last year, he called out BUT members, complaining that the Ministry of Education had failed to address issues such as the appointment of teachers, as well as the impasse at the Parkinson Memorial Secondary School and Alma Parris Memorial Secondary School.