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Redman: quiet,  strong woman


Ricky Jordan

Redman: quiet,  strong woman

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SHE WEARS FIERY RED and wears it well. It could be a manifestation of the warrior spirit in the president of the Barbados Secondary Teachers’ Union (BSTU), or her wardrobe may just be an extension of her name.
Whatever the reason, Mary Redman’s bright red outfits have graced the pages of every newspaper in Barbados, the footage of every television newscast, and many a Facebook post in the past two weeks. And her name has come up in nearly every conversation across this fair land.
But just who is Mary Redman? Who is this woman who has left most Barbadians seeing red?
A casual conversation with the BSTU head would reveal that she’s a modest, private person who would prefer to remain behind the scenes.
“I tell my members that if they see Mary Redman as the BSTU, then that would merely be limiting themselves. I am an officer of the BSTU. The power of the organization doesn’t lie in its leader – it lies in the membership,” she told the SUNDAY SUN at the Barbados Workers’ Union’s Solidarity House headquarters just over a week ago.
Watching her in action gives a larger dimension to her being “an officer”, however, and is immediate proof of the confidence she has in those she has led in her current battle:
over 30 striking teachers from The Alexandra School.
And for the last two weeks, the former Westbury Primary, Foundation, Combermere, University of the West Indies, Cave Hill and University of Manchester student who also worked with the Chamber of Commerce in Martinique,
has remained adamant, so much so that the intervention – albeit late – by the Minister of Education last week did not alter her focus even slightly.
Redman shocked Barbadians when she refused to sit in at the high-level negotiation meeting chaired by a four-member Cabinet delegation last Wednesday. It was because the BSTU had no intention of meeting with the man at the centre of the Alexandra impasse, principal Jeff Broomes, and according to Redman: “We don’t want another talk shop.
We want a meeting that can represent fully the interests, address the interests and resolve the matters at the school.
“Meeting with the NUPW [National Union of Public Workers] and BAPPSS [Barbados Association of Principals of Public Secondary Schools] cannot solve this situation now. We are beyond that. We have been there, we have done that.”
But the Speightstown-based school has not been her only battlefield in recent years. In March last year, she headed a BSTU grievance procedure against Harrison College principal Winston Crichlow, president of BAPPSS, on a matter involving a physically challenged teacher; while a previous formal grievance was filed by the BSTU against Crichlow in December 2010.
Redman, a geography and social studies teacher at The Lodge School, is in her seventh year at the helm of the BSTU after taking over from Phil Perry. She is also third vice-president of the Congress of Trade Unions and Staff Associations of Barbados (CTUSAB) and, guided by her mentor Patrick Frost, a veteran trade unionist, she brings a wealth of analytical skills and a passion for justice lauded by those who know her well.
In fact, those close to her would be quick to remind Barbadians and others passing judgment in the Alexandra impasse that the St Lucian-born Redman is a mother of one, a Catholic, and a down-to-earth, fun-loving woman who enjoys dancing and a good “lime”.
“She’s very intelligent and anything she does is well thought out,” said a close associate. “She’s methodical and extremely analytical. So when I hear from people that she’s on some kind of vendetta, I know they don’t know her,” she added.
For now, though, that’s what most Barbadians are saying. Mary Redman has, in two weeks, become the woman many “love to hate” since she has led, on picket lines and in boardrooms, the teachers whom folks simply wanted to “get back to work” and teach our children.
If only it were that simple for the lady in red!

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