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One voice

Yvette Best

One voice

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They came from more than 15 different institutions, but spoke in unison yesterday.
Industrial action, which started at the Alexandra School last week Wednesday with 30 plus teachers, spread to schools across the island as more than 200 teachers downed tools and picked up placards.
Teachers from Alleyne, Christ Church Foundation, Coleridge & Parry, Combermere, Deighton Griffith, Ellerslie, Harrison College, The Lester Vaughan School, The Lodge School, The St Michael School, Queen’s College, Springer Memorial, St Winifred’s, Samuel Jackman Prescod Polytechnic, the Barbados Community College, one primary school and retired teachers were in solidarity with their comrades at Alexandra School.
The battle colour red was dominant, but all colours of the rainbow were represented as the sea of educators made its way along the short route.
They marched from the BSTU’s Belleville, St Michael headquarters, along Pine Road and on to Culloden Road to the offices of the Chief Personnel Officer (CPO) Gail Atkins and back. They are pressing for a response from the CPO to a letter sent by the BSTU on December 7, in which they called for the separation of principal Jeff Broomes from the school.  
The spectacle temporarily brought traffic along Collymore Rock to a crawl as the teachers, accompanied by uniformed and plainclothes officers of the Royal Barbados Police Force, carried out their peaceful protest.
Teachers blended their voices for the international rallying song Solidarity Forever, which was the main chant, with We Shall Overcome, Bind Us Together, Victory Is Mine and others were tossed into the mix as teachers blended their voices to the beat of a cymbal and rhythmic handclapping.  
Protestors stopped at the front of the building facing Collymore Rock, where they were addressed by BSTU president Mary Redman and former general secretary of 30 years standing, Patrick Frost.
They circled the building about three times before returning to the spot by the lights. Motorists from all four directions, including the BSTU’s counsel Hal Gollop, blew their horns or raised their hands.
Teachers took that as a form of support and acknowledged it with raised voices.
The marchers did not meet with 100 per cent approval, however. There were three vocal objectors.
A bicyclist, a ZR driver and the driver of a car said the teachers should go back to work, with the car driver terming the action as “nonsense” when he passed the procession along Pine Road.
Alexandra teachers will be off the job for the eighth consecutive day today, while the wider BSTU membership returns to the classroom until further notice.