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Ministry off base


MARY-ANNE REDMAN, BSTU president

Ministry off base

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THE BARBADOS SECONDARY TEACHERS UNION (BSTU) has had its attention drawn to reported attempts by the Ministry of Education and some principals, purportedly acting on instructions of the ministry, to derail the movement of our call for compensation of teachers involved in Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) school-based assessment (SBA) work.

The actions of both these agents of the employer the union sees as disgusting attempts at bullying and fearmongering in circumstances where, instead, full support in this matter should be given to the persons over whom they have charge.

The minister himself and the president of Barbados Association of Principals of Public Secondary School (BAPPS) have both publicly admitted the heavy workload that CXC SBA work places on teachers in this country.

With that understanding, the reasonable expectation that the ministry would have tried to arrange a meeting to hear the teachers’ plight and assist in the representation of their cause at the level of CXC was never, and is still not, being realised.

The BSTU regrets that BAPPSS, too, though admittedly knowing the burden of the SBA work, as a trade union, has done nothing to promote the cause of and safeguard the interests of the teachers who run their schools.

Instead, they both resort to the convenient, cheap and emotional appeal of “the poor children” in their attempts to stymie legitimate efforts to address our problem.

This matter has nothing to do with the children and the teachers have protected them in their action.

This matter has to do with an employment relationship, and the past union presidents in the ministry, and BAPPS as a trade union, must surely recognise this.

What does this show of the ministry’s understanding of employment relationships? But then, where for example is the word to date on Parkinson, Alma Parris and appointments?

We understand that the Ministry of Education has indicated that principals should direct the relevant heads of department to correct the CXC SBAs that our members have refused to do, something that falls outside of the scope of these heads.

Has the Chief Education Officer (ag) Karen Best, a former trade union president, indicated that, in what now appears to be the preferred modus operandi of highly placed government officials, a list be provided by principals of persons who have not corrected the SBAs? Is she threatening action against them?

We cry shame on anyone who would stoop to such measures to deny teachers in Barbados their rights.

The public and National Council for Parent Teacher Associations have shown an understanding for our plight.

Why are the agents of the employer incapable of this? We say shame on the total disregard and contempt for us and the work that we struggle so hard to do under such demeaning conditions. What has the ministry done to put pressure on CXC to meet and negotiate with us? Why are the actions of the agents of the employer always those that intimidate and bully and therefore result in conflict and fear mongering? How do the “poor children” benefit from this approach? We are not primary school children and will not be treated as such.

To the teachers, I say if any of you were wavering before then these latest threatening and distasteful actions should strengthen your resolve to stand up for your yourselves and support your union. To fail in this matter is to your eternal peril. Solidarity now and forever.

We must ask ourselves why has the registrar of the CXC, now resident in Barbados, not taken any attempts to resolve this matter?

The general secretary of the Caribbean Union of Teachers is currently in Barbados and will address the Press tomorrow at nine on this matter . . . Stand firm!

– MARY-ANNE REDMAN, BSTU president

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