Public officers reminded against speaking on political platforms
Two secondary school teachers, one of whom spoke on a Democratic Labour Party platform on Sunday, were this week given a serious reminder about public officers canvassing and speaking on political platform.
Simon Alleyne, a former president of the Young Democrats, received a letter from Chief Education Officer Karen Best dated May 9, which he posted on his Facebook page and garnered several comments.
In it, Best noted that the Ministry of Education, Science, Technology, and Innovation had been made “aware of your presence on a political platform on May 6, 2018” and drew his attention to an attached circular titled General Election 2018 from the Acting Head of the Civil Service Dr Louis St E. Woodroffe and dated May 3.
It reads in part: “Permanent Secretaries and Heads of Departments are reminded that under Section 3.18.1 of the General Orders for the Public Service of Barbados, officers and employees are expressly forbidden to canvass on behalf of any party or candidate for election to the House of Assembly. Additionally, officers and employees shall not act as agents or sub-agents for any candidate for elections or speak at political meetings.”
Another teacher involved in the election campaign also received the reminder although not in writing, but declined to comment.
Alleyne said that he would comply with the regulations.
“I’m glad I took a stand and I was on the platform but the reality of it is that I am guided by the General Orders, so therefore I will comply with the rules stated in the General Orders. I was aware of the Orders, but at that point I believe it was necessary for me to throw support for my party the Democratic Labour Party,” he said.
He said that the General Orders speak to public officers being intimately involved in political campaigning such as speaking on platforms and canvassing and admitted that he would be involved in the campaign but “mindful of the rules”.
“I do believe that this is a very important time to represent your political party and going beyond the political parties, for the future of Barbados, that’s how I see it. I do believe that the cause of the Democratic Labour Party is one that needs representation.
“I have served on the general council and the executive council of the party, and I am part of the youth arm, and my participation points towards the future and the direction that you would want the party to go with young men and women who want to serve Barbados,” Alleyne added.
As requested, Best sent the circular to all nursery, primary and secondary school principals as did heads of other Government departments.
General secretary of the Barbados Union of Teachers, Herbert Gittens, said that although the union had not issued a statement or said anything to its members about participating in the General Election, they were aware of the General Orders.
The principal of Wesley Hall Junior said that he read the circular from Best to his staff, and other principals said they shared it as well. (GBM)