Trouble brewing ahead of new school term

The start to the new academic term next week is under threat of being disrupted by industrial action, as both the Barbados Union of Teachers (BUT) and Barbados Secondary Teachers’ Union (BSTU) seem destined for a showdown with the Ministry of Education over the contentious issue of docked pay.

The Mary Redman-led BSTU has called out its members to a meeting on Monday, during which battle plans will drawn in the event the ministry makes good on its threat to dock the salaries of teachers who, earlier this month, attended the union’s March of Respect to press for a resolution to a number of issues, including payment for the marking of school-based assessment projects administered by the Caribbean Examinations Council.

The ministry regarded the protest as unsanctioned industrial action, and has threatened to punish those who participated in the march during school hours.

It was the same position that the ministry had adopted after teachers represented by the BUT had attended meetings in April and May last year, at the height of a major row with Minister of Education Ronald Jones, who they had been pressuring to meet with them to discuss their concerns.

In that case, 80 per cent of the teachers had their salaries docked, angering the BUT, whose President Pedro Shepherd made it clear Thursday his members were no longer willing to talk or write about the matter.

Addressing the BUT’s annual conference, which concluded Thursday at Almond Bay Caterers, Shepherd warned that the time had come for militancy, because the usual diplomatic channels were pointless.

“Would the BUT be unjustified in calling out the members on this matter after 11 months of waiting for common sense to prevail? Clearly, when the ministry told us that they sent off the information to the Solicitor General for her advice and the subsequent announcements by the Minister of Education and several members of Cabinet, we were supposed to forget the issue and pronounce it dead, never to be resurrected, and thus treat it as our blood shed for our sins for wanting a hearing, due process, respect, fairness and justice from the employer.

“Let me inform you that like what happened on Good Friday and the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the tomb, the docking of pay, even though it spent several months lying in the tomb either at the Ministry of Education or the Solicitor General’s office, that too is not dead as we shall witness in short order. As a matter of fact it has risen and it is alive today as it was in May last year and it will be fought to the death,” Shepherd warned linking the vexing issue to one of the key foundations of Christianity.

While he was silent on the form of action the union intended to take, Shepherd made it clear that returning to the negotiating table was pointless.

“With all that has been happening in the public service, Parliament and our country in recent times, I have come to the conclusion, like most other trade unionist, that it is seemingly a waste of time trying to engage agents of this Government, particularly so for us, those at Constitution Road [Ministry of Education],” he stressed.

19 Responses to Trouble brewing ahead of new school term

  1. Samantha Best April 21, 2017 at 6:20 am

    It has become such a practice for teachers to be paid even though they are not teaching during the day and charging ‘lessons fees’ for after school classes, that they are now even asking to be paid when they withdraw their ‘labour’. Pay the teachers from the annual subvention already paid for by Government through tax payers’ financing. Try and do some work and earn respect. Honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay!

  2. Sifergie April 21, 2017 at 7:13 am

    Most teachers go beyond the call of duty to ensure their students learn and are taken of. They have earned the respect that should be shown. Teachers use their own equipment and money to make sure a good job is done. We should give proper homage to them

  3. Daniel Polonis
    Daniel Polonis April 21, 2017 at 7:41 am

    By all means…lets screw the kids..some more

    • Marsha Hinds
      Marsha Hinds April 21, 2017 at 8:54 am

      People making this comment obviously do not know how much the SYSTEM messes up their children…

    • Daniel Polonis
      Daniel Polonis April 21, 2017 at 8:55 am

      then fix it

  4. Mazie Taylor
    Mazie Taylor April 21, 2017 at 8:09 am

    CXC 11+ CAPE Exams don’t mess with those children time of teaching protest after

  5. Denise L Silcott
    Denise L Silcott April 21, 2017 at 8:46 am

    I have but a small question for clarity. Is it that the Ministry is suggesting/ expecting that the Teachers Unions should first seek their permission before conducting any Union sanctioned activity like the March of Respect or other times when members come out in protest of something that the Minster says or does? Help me to understand please. It just does not seem reasonable that they protest and are penalized especially when the Union should have certain powers. Just seeking clarity.

    • Fuji Kidd
      Fuji Kidd April 21, 2017 at 8:48 am

      Because I lost too

    • Wayne R. Pilgrim-Cadogan
      Wayne R. Pilgrim-Cadogan April 21, 2017 at 9:03 am

      Seems like Teachers Union wants to tell the Ministry how they should conduct their business affairs!

    • Denise L Silcott
      Denise L Silcott April 21, 2017 at 9:35 am

      Seems like it is the other way around from where I sit in. If the Ministry was concerned with the very valid concerns of teachers as have been highlighted via this medium on countless occasions to include physical harm to teachers and to students, issues surrounding marking SBAs etc., then the politician who seeks the said teachers votes should have met and discussed and reached common ground. I follow the news and the Unions (not only Teachers) are always crying out. The Unions have members which they are entrusted to represent especially against any measure which is detrimental to the membership. Clearly, the Ministry has no care for the Union from its actions and same for its teachers. Somebody really should research the powers of Trade Unions and why they need to be present in modern day societies.

      One last thing kind Sir, it is said that only who are in the fire feel its heat. Many people sit from their comfortable spots and lambaste teachers but would NEVER spend a day in a classroom. Only who feels it knows it and the Unions are merely highlighting the concerns of their members with regards to their conditions of work. If that constitutes telling the Ministry how to conduct their business – then let them carry on!!! Many people I find who work in the Ministry were once teachers and the minute they move to the comfortable offices with the air con they forget.

  6. Bonita Weekes
    Bonita Weekes April 21, 2017 at 8:58 am

    It’s pure wickedness to be doing this at this time. When Ronald Reagan was president of the US the Air Traffic Controlers were disatisfied with some things and against the admonition of the President went on strike. Does anyone remember what happened to them? In this place we make bare sport. I wish that Mary Redman would also see that there is a problem with a teacher being away from school for 3 weeks and 3rd form students doing Chemistry not being taught for that time. It seems like this thing intensifies when ever exams are near. Why not put your energy into coming up with a better replacement for that 11 plus exam that has out lived it’s usefulness. How are children allowed to get to class 4 not being able to grasp basic concepts and then have to suffer the indignity of sitting an exam at age 11, that will very much dictate the direction in which they lives will go. They are further insulted by being told that by age 16 you should have a certain amount of CXC passes or we will put you put of school. How can you people with the letters before and after your names see this as something good. I have no fancy credentials but for the last 35 yrs this has been a concern and I know that most of you know that it just ain’t working. I hope I’ll be around to see some one get enough balls to deal with it otherwise look to build more jails.

  7. Brathwaite-Haynes Joycelyn
    Brathwaite-Haynes Joycelyn April 21, 2017 at 9:01 am

    What’s new?

  8. Wayne R. Pilgrim-Cadogan
    Wayne R. Pilgrim-Cadogan April 21, 2017 at 9:01 am

    They are a group of teachers who are just bent on causing controversy in or educational system who do not care about teaching our youth, but are just there for the paycheck and should be weeded out of the teaching system!

    • Biscuits April 21, 2017 at 12:33 pm

      You are so right! A minority that jump at every opportunity to escape the classroom, with no thought to the nation’s children nor their colleagues, who then have to shoulder their responsibities in their absence. A means to an end is how some view their jobs!
      It might be prudent, for the Unions, to have a fund to cushion any impact industrial action has on their members’ pockets. If not, call the meetings for afterschool when only lessons will be affected!
      Start putting our students first!

  9. Marilyn Curreny
    Marilyn Curreny April 21, 2017 at 9:28 am

    Here we go again Jesus Take the Wheel

  10. Helicopter(8P) April 21, 2017 at 9:56 am

    Now may the Jesuits prayer for the little chillen’s education!

  11. James Austin Bynoe
    James Austin Bynoe April 21, 2017 at 10:15 am

    Hang in there …. continue speaking truth to POWER

  12. Floline Cadogan Burrowes
    Floline Cadogan Burrowes April 21, 2017 at 10:16 am

    It baffles me how educated people in Bdos keeping it so full of confusion everyday they should be leading the way for those that do not know or understand

  13. Loretta Griffith April 21, 2017 at 8:41 pm

    Wayne Pilgrim-Cadogan – you meant there is a group of teachers. Not like you, I am sure this was a typo. Just for the records. Not playing miss English.(smile)


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