Teachers pay cut illegal, warns BUT

BUT calls on ministry to withdraw punitive letters

The Ministry of Education could find itself in legal hot water if it goes ahead with plans to cut the pay of teachers who attended two recent meetings called by the Barbados Union of Teachers (BUT).

At a news conference this evening at the union’s Merry Hill, St Michael headquarters, BUT President Pedro Shepherd said based on the legal advice the union had received, there were absolutely no grounds for the ministry to take such punitive action against its members.


BUT President Pedro Shepherd addressing this evening’s press conference.

He pointed to Section 22 of the second schedule of the Public Service Act, which states that “officers shall not be paid for any day or portion of the day for which they are on strike”.

However, he insisted that teachers who were away from school on April 29 and May 4 were not on strike, but were merely attending union meetings with the permission of their respective principals.

“I do not consider the events of April 29 or that of May 4 to be strike action and I therefore submit that no action can be taken under the Public Service Act of Barbados,” Shepherd told reporters.

However, in a letter dated May 6, Permanent Secretary June Chandler informed 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.”


Shepherd said the union first learnt of the letter via social media, as he warned that the BUT was prepared to take any action necessary to defend its members.

“We certainly are not going to sit idly by and allow threats of docking of pay to prevent us in the BUT from doing what we have to do as a trade union, and if these threats continue then, as I said, we would have to take them as far as we are allowed to take them so that the laws of Barbados can protect the teachers.”

The teachers’ boss suggested that if anyone was at fault, it was the ministry, which he said had ignored a letter from the BUT in which it had signalled its intention to meet with its members.

In view if this, Shepherd said it was therefore unreasonable for the ministry to seek to punish the educators.

“We need action on this because teachers have not been given a pay increase since 2009. Teachers are working from pay cheque to pay cheque and to deduct any quantum of money from a teacher’s salary is going to affect the teacher or teachers significantly,” he said, adding “two days pay is a significant amount”.

Shepherd, who was flanked by other members of his executive, said ministry’s letter also had serious implications for other trade unions in Barbados, saying “CTUSAB would be apprised of its contents for discussion at the level of the executive and at the table of the Social Partnership.”

The BUT head strongly defended the union’s right to call meeting within school hours, saying the country’s laws provided trade unions and staff associations with this right.

“Unions will not call meetings everyday and if the union for whatever reason has to call meetings then we expect the ministry would put a human face to it and then would give some lead way.”

He said even if the ministry had responded to say to the teachers, ‘I don’t think the meeting should be at one o’clock, I would prefer if you have the meeting at  2 [p.m.], so that we can close school at 1.30 [p.m], we would be amenable to it.

Pedro Shepherd & Ronald Jones
Pedro Shepherd, left, has called on the Minister of Education Ronald Jones to withdraw the letter to teachers.

However, he said the Ronald Jones-led ministry chose not to respond to union in a timely manner.

Shepherd also pointed out that 99 per cent of the teachers who attended the meetings were given permission by their principals or the person in charge of the school, asking: “If permission was granted by the principals how then can you justify the docking of pay, were the teachers therefore wrong to accept their principals’ permission to attend the meetings? Where is the human face to all of this? What is the rush, can’t there be negotiations on such a matter? Why can’t the ministry move with the same haste to pay those teachers who have been acting in positions for years and can’t get their allowances? What is the position with other unions who call out members to meeting for an entire day every month, why is it that BUT and it members seems to be targeted all the time?”

He charged that the BUT was being unfairly targeted and that the ministry continued to change the rules midstream.

However, he said if the ministry, which has recently been on a collision course with teachers, intends to go forward in good faith with the union to resolve challenges facing the education sector, it should withdraw letter.

Failing this, he said, the union would call on its membership and “ find out what they prepared to do”.



15 Responses to Teachers pay cut illegal, warns BUT

  1. Roslyn Clarke
    Roslyn Clarke May 22, 2016 at 10:08 pm

    Tell me that the 2009 conment is a typo or misstatement! Seven years is a real long tine to go without an increase since the cost of living goes up every year!

  2. Maria May 22, 2016 at 10:23 pm

    Threats never worked in Barbados when I live there and was part of a union. Some people don’t handle power well and should not abuse it.

  3. John Herbert
    John Herbert May 23, 2016 at 5:14 am

    Take it before a judge and see who is right. I think the BUT President is being guided by the opinion of a lawyer, and he should be properly advised that a lawyer’s opinion is call ‘an opinion’ for a reason.

  4. Sheldon Cox
    Sheldon Cox May 23, 2016 at 6:34 am

    So why can’t you pay the workers you called out. Them pay you guys every month so give them back a little bit of the money them pay you

  5. Sharon Taylor
    Sharon Taylor May 23, 2016 at 6:39 am

    I here wondering why union members pay union dues? So that d executive members could live like kings and queens? Or for instances like these where employers fail to pay the workers who participated in union meetings during working hours? Union dues are there to also pay union members, not just d union employees! D union becoming just as distasteful as politics!

  6. harry turnover May 23, 2016 at 6:44 am

    correction…that name should have been harry turnover and not harry turnoverp

  7. Carson C Cadogan May 23, 2016 at 7:54 am

    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.

  8. Ras Unjay
    Ras Unjay May 23, 2016 at 9:23 am

    pay cut illegal?.we will see.lol,de teachers got goats as union leaders.i tell them so long time,now mary got plenty lambs,and pedro leading de lil donkeys,lolol

  9. Carson C Cadogan May 23, 2016 at 9:23 am

    I cant believe that Pedro and his Sheep teachers didnt see this coming.

    you didnt work, so dont expect to get paid. It is as simple as A-B-C.

    But they have a bigger issue to worry about. They have endangered their Pensions under the General Orders of the Public Service.

    There was a time in Barbados when Teachers were considered as Intelligent people, but those times seem to be long gone.

  10. Rupert Greaves May 23, 2016 at 10:29 am

    Is it coincidence that your name is shepherd? I cannot remember the name of the principal who gave me permission to leave the people’s children and told me he/she will look after them so that I can attend a meeting. You said that the Ministry could’ve suggested that you hold the meeting at 2.00 o’clock, didn’t you think of this at that time? I used to think that my Union dues were partly to pay me when I was on strike because I cannot imagine a man paying me when I say “I am not working, I am going to a union meeting to decide how to deal with you”. I am now told that part of my dues go towards the purchase of a car. Sir, have you not heard that you can’t have your cake and eat it? It is simple, if you eat it, you have no more cake.

  11. Ryan Williams
    Ryan Williams May 23, 2016 at 11:13 am

    Who here can be sick one day and stay home from work without having to produce a doctor certificate? Does your pay get dot?

  12. Voice of Wisdom May 23, 2016 at 11:23 am

    What is illegal about docking teachers ‘ pay for going on strike? I belong to a union and if I go on strike that is called by the union, my pay is deducted also. What is required is for pressure to be placed on the government of the day to legislate that no union member’s pay be deducted for attending legitimate strikes.

  13. Carson C Cadogan May 23, 2016 at 7:18 pm

    Just to show how stupid some Teachers are, Teachers were guaranteed that during the right sizing of the Public service none of them would be sent home.

    Teachers are paid huge salaries, what Teachers work for in a month some workers in Barbados have to work 3 months to get.

    Yet some Teachers dont want to work for their salary, pretending to be at Union meetings instead of teaching the Nation’s children.

    If the Govt. had sent home 400 teachers it would have been able to balance its budget. Yet the Govt. sent home NCC workers and Transport Board workers and not Teachers who have shown by their action that they dont want any work.

  14. Tony Waterman May 24, 2016 at 3:23 am

    @FOOL BUT President Pedro Shepherd!!!! How about the Union Paying their members for OUR time spent attending YOUR Meetings, Why would you think that it is fair for the Employer to pay for your meetings, How about holding your meetings on Saturday or Sunday, or would that be on YOUR Time ????? why don’t you try that with Private Enterprise, and see how far you will get ??? FOOL


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