Embattled Jones gets another vote of confidence

One day after the ruling Democratic Labour Party (DLP) threw its full support behind Minister of Education Ronald Jones in his row with the country’s teachers, two of his cabinet colleagues today expressed “full and complete” confidence in the embattled minister.

In a press statement issued yesterday by General Secretary George Pilgrim, the General Council of the DLP, led by Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, issued strong words of praise for both Jones and his team in the Ministry of Education and poured cold water on the Barbados Union of Teachers’ (BUT) calls for the minister’s resignation.

Furthermore, the Stuart-led party made it clear it would not be dictated to by any union, even if it meant more disruption to what is currently being described by teachers as a “broken” school system.

Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler and Minister of Housing Dennis Kellman continued the theme today in separate media interviews.

“I have full and complete confidence in the Minister of Education and the Ministry of Education in these matters,” Sinckler told journalists at a celebratory event at Casa Grande Hotel for students from his constituency who wrote this week’s Barbados Secondary Schools Entrance Examination.

Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler
Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler

The minister then sought to turn the tables on the BUT by describing its call for Jones to meet with its members as a sign of failure.

The BUT has demanded the meeting to discuss a number of issues of concern, however Jones has turned down the request. The teachers have since gone on work-to-rule and have threatened to intensify their protest if Prime Minister Freundel Stuart does not provide a satisfactory response within two weeks, to a letter they wrote to him on Wednesday seeking his intervention.

Today, Sinckler said he was unsure what BUT President Pedro Shepherd was requesting from Jones, insisting that a meeting with the entire membership of 2,000 teachers could be “physically, mentally and intellectually challenging” for the Minister of Education.

“To me it seems like a fairly, maybe unintended, implicit admission of failure on the part of the leadership of the union. I don’t think that is the intention because I don’t think anybody would go and say that or admit it publically, but by implication that is basically what they are saying. They are not saying ‘come and meet the executive of the union or the elected people to negotiate on behalf of the union, [they are saying] I want you to meet with the whole membership’. Now something got to be wrong there. There’s some disconnect there in the logic. It doesn’t quite wash in the way I think it ought to but, then maybe perhaps I am wrong [and] it’s just my weird interpretation of what is happening,” Sinckler explained.

The minister acknowledged that the unions had a legitimate right to engage in industrial action if they believed their concerns and issues were not being satisfactorily addressed.

However, he said he did not agree with the BUT’s methods, repeating the position expressed by the DLP and Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Education Senator Harry Husbands that both the minster and the ministry had held several meetings with the union in recent months.

Dennis Kellman
Minister of Housing, Lands and Rural Development Dennis Kellman

Meantime, Minister of Housing, Lands and Rural Development Denis Kellman argued that Jones has done lot for the teachers, emphasizing a point made by Sinckler that the embattled minister had appointed 400 teachers with another 200 expected to be appointed soon.

In an interview with Barbados TODAY the outspoken Kellman also lashed out at Shepherd, saying the union leader should be praising the Freundel Stuart administration, not marching against it.

Like his other DLP parliamentary colleagues and the party leadership, Kellman made reference to a series of meetings held between the ministry and the BUT.

The Member of Parliament for St Lucy MP also contended that Government had been responding to, and accommodating Shepherd and making him look good but he seemed not to be appreciative of it.

Source: (NC)

6 Responses to Embattled Jones gets another vote of confidence

  1. Mark Fenty
    Mark Fenty May 7, 2016 at 5:34 am

    Requesting a meet with the minister was an unreasonable request, but issuing an ultimatum is unheard of and I have been in an union for some three decades now.

  2. Mark Fenty
    Mark Fenty May 7, 2016 at 5:34 am

    Requesting a meet with the minister was an unreasonable request, but issuing an ultimatum is unheard of and I have been in an union for some three decades now. It is just not the correct course of action to employ the powers of one position as an instrument of intimidation to obtain what one wants.

  3. harry turnover May 7, 2016 at 6:45 am

    Pedro you should have made the comment and wait for feedback BEFORE you sent that letter to the PM.You sent out a sprat and three or four piranhas bit the bait.
    Now it makes no sense waiting for a favorable reply…the answers to that and much more are right there in the open.
    Wha you gine do now PS ?? ask the Air Traffic Controllers to come out in solidarity or ya gine for the SSA which is more in line with what you say and do ?

  4. Johnathan May 7, 2016 at 7:28 am

    According to the old people Jones forget where he come from and bajans need to send him back there..

  5. Greenidge Starr
    Greenidge Starr May 7, 2016 at 7:32 am

    I have never heard of a group of employees issuing an ultimatum to their boss. Meet with me or else. Your grievances are valid but your approach was wrong. Harry Husbands is correct. When you come to me with that disrespectful attitude, I have no choice but to ignore you. The union is doing its members a disservice by this nasty attitude, wheel and come again, properly request the desired meeting respecting all protocols for doing so and focus on getting your members the upgrades so badly needed in the teaching service. Leave out the politics man.


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