MALE TEACHERS may soon be entitled to special paid leave when their spouses become pregnant.And teachers being forced to resign if they want to contest a general election could well be a thing of the past.Head of the Barbados Union of Teachers (BUT), Karen Best, said these were among a list of union proposals in a collective bargaining document to which the Ministry of Education had given its blessing.However, she pointed out: “This document has to be negotiated with the Ministry of the Civil Service to become a reality. The Ministry of the Civil Service, rather than the Ministry of Education, is the ultimate ministry to sign off on the document.”Under the BUT’s proposals, teachers whose spouses are expecting a baby would be entitled to a maximum of three days’ paternity leave per year up to three years.The BUT also recommended that teachers in the service for at least five years be granted unpaid leave of absence for a period not exceeding six months to contest general elections.“Before, a teacher had to resign his or her job to contest elections,” Best noted.“Under our proposal, if you are not successful, you will return to your position.“If you win, you can apply for leave of absence without pay for the duration of the first term of office and retain all benefits in the teaching service.”Best pointed out: “This happens in all the other professions. I don’t see why teachers are made to suffer.”Best explained that the two proposals were part of what was essentially a BUT collective bargaining document for a membership including principals, tutors at Erdiston Teachers’ Training College and the Barbados Community College, instructors at the Samuel Jackman Prescod Polytechnic, librarians and education officers.She reported that BUT officials had recently held discussions with the Ministry of Education on the document.“They agreed to most of the contents of the document,” she said.
“They agreed in principle to support those requests. It’s now left to the Ministry of the Civil Service to review the document.” (TY)