BSTU thrown out of ministry talks with teachers

The two-day meeting between teachers of Grantley Adams Memorial School and the Ministry of Education to discuss security concerns at the St Joseph learning institution, broke down today after the teachers walked out in protest.

At issue was the ministry’s decision to bar the Barbados Secondary Teachers’ Union (BSTU) from the talks for the second straight day.

The series of meetings began yesterday at the prompting of the BSTU following a stabbing at the school, which left four students nursing injuries.

The union said in a release this afternoon that having been unhappy with its omission yesterday, the teachers invited the BSTU to today’s talks, only for the union’s officials to be thrown out.

BSTU President Mary Redman said today’s drama began when the assistant general secretary was “summoned outside and told that the union was not invited, and further that they did not want the union’s presence on the school compound”.

“He was ushered to the gates,” Redman said.

“When I arrived I saw him and the public relations officer outside the school gates and was told the same by the security guard. We waited outside of the school gates and our first vice president, who is a teacher there, indicated to the ministry’s panel that the union officers, including the president, were at the gates and that the staff wanted them to join the meeting. This was denied and so she left the meeting along with the other shop stewards and some other members of the BSTU. Some other teachers, who are not our members, and some members of the BUT [Barbados Union of Teachers] also left the meeting prematurely and left the school compound. So too did one or two of our members who stated that they were too emotionally distraught to stay. One was headed for the doctor,” the union leader said.

The issue came up at a news conference this morning, at which Minister of Education Ronald Jones, Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Education Harry Husbands, Permanent Secretary June Chandler and Chief Education Officer Karen Best addressed concerns about school violence.

It was the latest incident – a stabbing on Tuesday at Grantley Adams Memorial School, which resulted in injuries to four students, that triggered the meetings.

However, Jones accused the BSTU of showing up to the talks “willy nilly”, without an invitation.

“I would encourage that rather than persons just turning up willy nilly at a school that nobody just walks off the street and walks into a private sector organization. Somehow people believe that they hear an accident happen at the school and they just walk onto the school. We are not encouraging that. No, not at all,” the minister said.

“We don’t just walk off the street and come to your workplace and bother anybody. We cannot encourage that because it leads to the further breakdown of the respect that we all need. It is not because we are called public they can do that. When it is a private school they call first and speak to the principal, but somehow people believe that we are called public and they can just show up. It is protected space,” Jones stressed.

The meetings were held at the BSTU’s prompting after the teachers threatened to stay away from the classroom until the ministry agreed to talks to discuss their safety.

Redman said this made the decision to throw out the union even more perplexing.

“While the BSTU understands and appreciates the right of the employer to meet with employees, the union believes that because of the grievous nature of these particular circumstances at the Grantley Adams school, because of the fact that the union wrote and demanded such a meeting, and because the union is aware of the fact of the consultative nature and approach of the interventions that will be necessary to address this serious problem, we find it incomprehensible that the Ministry of Education has barred the union from attending the meetings,” she said, adding that precedent had been set when meetings were held last year with teachers of St George Secondary School, with the union present.

“With the precedent of how we had operated at St George Secondary where we acted in a similar manner, demanded similar meetings and were invited along with the staff, we envisaged that the same modus operandi on the ministry’s part would apply in this instance and that we would be in attendance at the relevant meeting,” the BSTU boss explained.

30 Responses to BSTU thrown out of ministry talks with teachers

  1. Alex Alleyne February 9, 2018 at 11:18 pm

    From the beginning all (3) parties should have been sitting together and finding a solution.

    • Jennifer February 10, 2018 at 12:40 pm

      Now that solution should be very interesting indeed Alex my boy.

      • Jennifer February 10, 2018 at 12:55 pm

        @Alex – Now if the lion was not lying with the lamb, or if the goat and sheep were not put in the same pen, or the rooster and the vulture perching on the same paling, we may have bagged a solution, or may not even need one, but the egg shells are way too brittle to make any kind of steps = pin down, pin in and pin up.

  2. Saga Boy February 10, 2018 at 2:36 am

    A solution will be found without adding on another with Mary. The teachers were there. Unions are not adding value these days. They have lost their way.

  3. archy perch February 10, 2018 at 4:27 am

    The problem is Mary and her political agenda. Always ready to strike and make political statements. An outrageous red woman carrying the Blessed Virgin’s name.

    • ebaje February 10, 2018 at 5:33 am

      Like Jones’ and Karen Best’ agendas when they were head of the BUT? Or Karen Best’ appointment as Chief Education Officer?

    • O. Walrond February 13, 2018 at 8:51 am

      You ought to be ashamed of yourself.

  4. Annoyed Citizen February 10, 2018 at 5:10 am

    Workers have a right to be represented especially at a meeting on something as critical as this! None of the Ministry Officials is likely to be stabbed on the job or to be forced to catch a public service vehicle on which fights erupt among school children!

    Once again no-one wants to apportion blame where it really should go – AT THE FEET OF THE ABSENT / UNDERPERFORMING / COMPLICIT SPERM AND EGG DONORS FOR PARENTS WALKING AROUND BIM!!!!

  5. Greengiant February 10, 2018 at 5:37 am

    Some of these union leaders are ready to breach protocols
    whenever they can. There was a meeting at a department within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday. The meeting was attended by the PS and COP officer. Would you believe the president of a union was in the department at the request of two employees the day before the agreed meeting?

    The employer was never notified by the union, but the president just showed up and was ushered into the department by these two employees who are currently giving much problems to a recently acting manager. The workers representatives has to stop breaching protocols, stop this silly prehistoric ‘custom and practice’ expectation.

    In the 21st century we need to have respect for the laws governing e very sector within our country. Otherwise anarchy will set in sooner or later. Those in authority of every organization need to respect the law within which they function and forget about the silly manipulation. It’s causing too much problems at a time when we need the island’s machinery to settle down.

    • Annoyed Citizen February 10, 2018 at 6:13 am

      The day BEFORE the meeting. Greengiant what’s your point? How has protocol been breached if the union rep comes on a fact-finding mission or to speak regarding concerns of their constituents? Are you saying they should not notify management of brewing issues especially if they have some relevance to the upcoming meeting? Those in authority show little respect for the law themselves. How can the machinery “settle down”?

  6. Tony Webster February 10, 2018 at 5:50 am

    This beloved country is falling apart like a House of Cards…or just jokers…. and there’s one in very pack…in our homes…in the Ministry..the unions..the school. Just plain ugly behaviour…and the children…they’re not watching…right?

  7. Roverp February 10, 2018 at 6:17 am

    I have the right to be represented and will not attend any meeting where that right is infringed.

  8. hcalndre February 10, 2018 at 6:34 am

    @Saga Boy/archy perch; now that the workers have gotten the Unions to be concerned with their plight, instead of being represented by DLP operatives for so long that they became very disenchanted with the Unions and refuse to be members any longer. The few members that are left and their representatives are now being marginalized by the anti union DLP and their clones. Its plain to see where the previous leaders end up, nesting with the party.

  9. Saga Boy February 10, 2018 at 7:00 am

    How did the Ministry infringed on the workers’ rights? The Ministry did not charge the workers with breaching any rules or policies. The role of the Ministry is to manage. Therefore at this stage there is no need to invite the union to any meeting.

  10. Sheron Inniss February 10, 2018 at 7:05 am

    The BSTU asked for the meetings according to the article. They should be there. The teachers right to walk out. Jones et al want notice. People in glass houses should not throw stones. Let the unruly children stan’ home and let the unruly parents teach them or see if they can afford private schooling.

    Let those who want to learn have some peace. Let teachers who really want to teach get on with it. Tell the rest find another calling and tell the union to get out of bed with the government.

  11. Joy February 10, 2018 at 7:17 am

    Workers, including teachers, have a right to representation and to a safe work place! What is the Ministry afraid of?

  12. Angela February 10, 2018 at 8:20 am

    What is happening in society that our children are so hostile? How we as parents can assist to defray this anger?. How can we increase the resources that are needed in schools to help with the problem? These are the questions we need to ask and answer. It seems easier to just get into a lot of political talk.Some of you responding how are helping our youth and what examples are you setting for them?

    • Jennifer February 10, 2018 at 12:37 pm

      @Angela – This is nothing more than regression back to a former state from these youth. The adults doing it too, look carefully. We as a majority people are like wondering sheep, we have been sold out, locked in, locked out, locked down and locked up as the last resort. SACRIFICIAL LAMBS HUH.

      @Saga – imagine we are dealing with adults who cannot even sort their $H^T out and want children prim, now you see why things are so dysfunctional in total.

  13. Saga Boy February 10, 2018 at 9:18 am

    Angela all these people want is confrontation after confrontation instead of trying to solve the problem. If Mary worked in the private sector she could not invite herself to any meetings at the workplace or demand that she attend a staff meeting. Do you think Mary would invite Jones to a meeting with teachers? Management has a right to first of all meet with the people they manage. The union don’t pay their wages. If I have my way Mary would not be paid by the MOE. If you want to represent the interests of employees then let the union pay for the GS and not burden the state.

  14. Hamilton Hill February 10, 2018 at 9:32 am

    If trade unionism in Barbados was like it once was, where trade unionists were worth their salt this Minister who has constantly overstepped his boundaries would by now been brought to a Christian understanding. The focus has to remain on the safety and well being of faculty and students across the country. The personal vendetta that Ronald Jones seems bent to prosecute against Mary Redman has no place here……oh how I wish an umbrella body would remind these clowns what real trade unionists stand for……unless and until this nonsense is properly addressed all school children and teachers in Barbados remain under threat. Heed the warning!

  15. Lorenzo February 10, 2018 at 10:06 am

    Saga Boy ,Archy Perch and GreenGiant,when are you all stop being stool pigeons for the DLp and recognize that Minister Jones has a personal vendetta against Ms Redman,and therefore does not want her at any meeting.This is what this nonsense boils down to.How can you be discussing safety at the school and the teachers representatives are not present?That makes sense to you three Dem yardfowls?Use your brains and stop defending foolishness.

  16. Mack February 10, 2018 at 11:51 am

    The adults are behaving just like the children. How can we solve anything in this country??

    I hope they don’t have weapons in their bags.!!

  17. Mack February 10, 2018 at 11:54 am

    This Mary lady can get very agresive at times. Hope this is not the problem.

  18. Foster February 10, 2018 at 3:11 pm

    The current situation is not something about Mary. A solution must be found to curtail the current spate of violence.Everyone must put their hand to the plough or rather brains and proffer some solutions. A number of children are now going into primary school unable to read and write as a result they are left behind and their are no remedial classes. Some then go on to secondary school with only the basic skills and cannot keep up with the learning curve. In my view they become very frustrated and their minds wander and seek mischief. A way must be found to remedy this state of affairs. In my day these children were exposed to wood and metal work and therefore acquired skills. Teachers and children are at risk so please stop the bashing and bring solutions before the chickens come home to roost at your home or that of your family

  19. Saga Boy February 10, 2018 at 4:14 pm

    Yes Lorenza because Mary does not manage the school. How is it done at your workplace? Is the union call in to do what you should be doing in the first instance? If you had a business and there was a safety problem would you not try to solve it first before involving a union? You need to read the update on the meeting held with the teachers.

  20. Lorenzo February 10, 2018 at 6:08 pm

    Saga Boy if there is a problem and the teachers request the Union,s presence,are you telling me the Union should not be present?Mr Jones was once President of the BUT and was very militant at that and were he still President would have insisted in being present,so I don,t know what nonsense you telling me.How long has the teachers been complaining about violence in schools and fearing for their safety without response from the Ministry,headed by all teachers like Mr Jones,Mr Husbands and Ms Best.You Dems seem to believe people have short memories,but I do not,so take off your DLP hat and call a spade a spade and stop defending nonsense.

  21. archy perch February 11, 2018 at 5:47 am

    The bad behave students of Barbados get the cue from Mary and her sheep. The union has left alot of dirty tracks under her nasty dress. Mia’s Shadow Chief Education Officer.

  22. Mack February 11, 2018 at 1:56 pm

    Just walk through Bridgetown and you will see some of the reasons for the children neglet.

    Youth Town on Tudor street used to be a place where City boys used to go and find constructive things to do. Look at it now.

    The big Public Library Building on Coleridge Street, Where Children went to be safe and to learn to read. Look at it now.

    And I can go on and on. With poor transportation to get to School. Adult must take most of the blame for these problems.

  23. David Hall February 11, 2018 at 5:06 pm

    ‘Walk off the road and walk into meeting’. Has Mr Jones lost his mind. School is primarily comprised of Teachers and Pupils. Any meeting that questions the participation of teachers and judges them even before they sit down to discuss anything is wrong. Neither Mr. Jones nor Mrs Best ever suffered this degree of indignity nor injustice when they served as union officials. How can they now justify treating unions like this. Surely the DLP is the worst thing that ever happened to this country.

  24. A Concerned Man February 12, 2018 at 12:20 pm

    The public Sector… is exactly that… lest we have lost the definition of “Public”…. Public officials are accountable to one body of people… THE PUBLIC !!!! We vote for our Public Officials and they are accountable to US… The Unions also represent “paid” members “The Public” Which believe me … There is plain as day commonsense here that needs to be exhibited by all people involved… What I also see here is a complete lack of interest for the most important element in this saga….. The School Children…. who are suffering for a lack of education…. All the talk here is about who should and should not be at meeting… There is little to no talk of solutions being offered to curb this worrisome trend amongst our youth. My heart bleeds for Barbados….


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