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Ministry, BSTU to meet

rhondathompson, [email protected]

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The Ministry of Education and the Barbados Secondary Teachers Union (BSTU) have agreed to meet next month to deal with any outstanding industrial relations matters.Yesterday, the ministry despatched a release stating the two parties would meet on July 28.The ministry also made it clear it had acted in “good faith” on its handling of industrial relations issues at the Alexandra School, and in particular the ministry’s decision to deduct monies from teachers’ salaries who participated in strike action on January 5. According to the ministry, since assuming office in December 2009 and January 2010, the acting chief education officer Laurie King and the acting permanent secretary in the ministry, Guildford Alleyne held at least eight meetings with the BSTU, the Barbados Association of Principals of Public Secondary Schools (BAPPSS), the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) and the Principal of the Alexandra School, in an attempt to resolve outstanding issues.The ministry is of the view every effort was made to accommodate the BSTU at these meetings, and its representatives were allowed to determine the agenda of each meeting and indicate the order in which each item would be discussed.  The ministry said that on June 1, at one such meeting, members of the BSTU walked out during discussions after they realised that one agenda item “Assurances on Fundamental Industrial Relations Matters” could not be discussed as the acting permanent secretary was out of the island on duty leave and had requested that this item be deferred to the next meeting when he could be present.Subsequently, the BSTU submitted a letter dated June 3, indicating that a work to rule would be enforced at the school, pending the outcome of the proposed meeting with the permanent secretary.The release from the ministry states that this meeting was held on June 7, 2010 and according to them, discussions again broke down as the BSTU stated that its representatives would have no further talks with the ministry unless a letter dated May 17, sent to the BSTU by the Ministry of Education was withdrawn.The aforementioned letter referred to strike action which was taken by teachers at the Alexandra School on January 5, and the legal ramifications of such actions, which was the deduction of monies from the salaries of those who were on strike.The ministry has outlined that section 20 (2) of the Second Schedule of the Public Service Act 2007-41, states that “Officers shall not be paid for any day or portion of a day during which they are on strike.” (MK)