BSTU statement on Alexandra teachers
The following is the full statement from The Barbados Secondary Teachers’ Union on the return of Alexandra School teachers to work this morning.
The Barbados Secondary Teachers’ Union has instructed ( not ordered) its members of staff at the Alexandra School to resume teaching duties with immediate effect.
The Union will have written all the agents of the employer superior to the Principal advising them of this decision and indicating a stated expectation that all those agents will act so as to ensure there is no victimization, recrimination or other form of work place abuse, so that the teachers can perform their professional obligations in an environment conducive to teaching and learning. The Union’s letter also cautions that if there are any lapses in the practices required by the Government, as the model employer in labour management relations, then these will be met by an appropriate response.
The Union wishes to make it abundantly clear, given its professional and trade union obligations, that its decision has been made entirely in the context of all that is implicit in the public announcement by the Prime Minister to the setting up of a Commission of Enquiry into all matters at the Alexandra School. Most important of these is the expectation, in keeping with what has been best practice and following our discussion, that the Principal of that institution will be sent on leave with full pay when the warrant establishing said Commission is issued.
The union shall expect therefore that the agents of the employer will prepare in advance for this. We have made this decision to return, notwithstanding the absence of certain specific and relevant details in relation to a time-frame, from a position of trust in the office of the Prime Minister and with the assurance that he will act in the best interest of that statement of policy and of this country. The resumption of work is therefore being undertaken by this trade union, yet again, as an act of good faith in the negotiating exercise.
The Union’s membership at Alexandra is conscious of its professional commitments to students, their parents and to the school itself, a fact which was publicly recognized, on more than one occasion, by the Prime Minister. This, along with a known increase of pressure on both students and parents alike in this examination term, has also played a major role in our decision. The industrial action taken by the Union was not intended to, in anyway disadvantage the school, but to bring sobriety and sanity out of the existing irreparably fractured situation that causes pain and suffering to those there.
The Union abhors the time which has been permitted to elapse before any definitive attempt has been made to address the serious problems at the school. We are fully satisfied that senior public officers and successive Public Service Commissions, responsible individually and collectively in law for the administration of employment practices at the Alexandra School, including the industrial relations aspect, have for years allowed an untenable situation first to develop and then to fester. This has occurred under successive political administrations. Nothing that the Union has done has been driven by party-political politics and we have no intention of being drawn into any party political debate and divide.
The Union offers the assurance that it proposes to cooperate fully with the process of enquiry and reposes confidence in that process. We fully expect that Commission both to vindicate the teachers and to produce recommendations for the Cabinet which we expect to be enacted with the priority that has previously NOT been given to the importance of the teaching/learning environment that the teachers there have always known should exist.
Moreover, as expected in such matters the Union shall respect the circumstances and shall seek to keep out of the limelight on that aspect of the issue. We are expecting that similar instruction will be given to the Principal by his employers.
The members of the BSTU have, without prejudice, resumed work today, and we hereby clarify that some of our members had been released, since last week, to undertake CXC oral examinations and other duties.
Regrettably, when we did this earlier it did NOT mean that the Principal would discontinue acts of discrimination, mismanagement and workplace abuse. The teachers will however continue to work professionally while awaiting the expeditious establishment of the Commission of Inquiry. In these specific circumstances, the Prime Minister has publicly recognized the difficult environment in which they work and has validated their several complaints about it.
The Union is therefore expecting that the PM will, with haste, provide substance to the generalities of his policy statement to this Union and the nation.