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BSTU, BUT tell teachers participating in chain link not mandatory


BSTU, BUT tell teachers participating in chain link not mandatory

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TEACHERS ARE UNDER no obligation to participate in next Monday’s human chain link to mark the 50th Anniversary of Barbados’ Independence.

That is the message in a joint statement issued today by the Barbados Secondary Teachers’ Union (BSTU) and the Barbados Union of Teachers (BUT).

The release said neither union was consulted about the logistics of the exercise which will be held from 9:30 to 11 a.m. across the island and in which schools are expected to play a major role.

Among the concerns outlined were teacher/pupil ratios, transportation and bathroom facilities.

Please see the full release below.

The BSTU and the BUT are very concerned about the many queries reaching us in relation to the logistical planning of the Human Chain Link and the potential liabilities to which teachers are exposed in the operationalising of this event.

First, as has become the  norm, neither teacher trade union has been involved in the planning of this event, yet another instance of government officials excluding registered and legitimate trade unions from activities involving terms and conditions of service for their members. Further, yet another instance of disrespect and dismissal of trade unions in this country as stakeholders and partners in education.

In response to the many queries raised by the teachers, of major importance is that teachers cannot be mandated to attend any such event. The workplace of the teachers that day is at their assigned schools and any work with this project would have to be seen as entirely voluntary.

Of major concern for both Unions is the teacher/pupil ratio. It has been the norm that for field trips outside the school there should be a ratio of one teacher to ten students. To what extent will that be possible in this instance and what liability is there for the teachers in the event of an incident? Teachers are expected to supervise children from three years old.

What bathroom arrangements have been made for these toddlers and extra personnel for their supervision in such circumstances? Further, where are the signed permission slips of the parents giving permission for their children and wards to leave the school premises and take part in this activity? Where is the documentation absolving the teacher for mishaps in such circumstances?

There, to a large measure, seems to be insufficient secured transportation for the students. As those arrangements now exist they spell chaos in the transport system as workers and students compete for transportation along many routes unaccustomed to catering to such numbers. What are the .guarantees for the efficient and timely movement of the students to and from their assigned locations, in many instances, very many miles away from their schools.

It is the considered opinion of the BSTU and the BUT that this activity should have taken place on a weekend day and planned as a family activity.

Again we state to our members that it is mandatory ONLY that they attend their respective schools on that date. (PR/SAT)