BSTU consultant still adamant that broomes should be separated from school
The Barbados Secondary Teachers Union remains adamant Principal Jeff Broomes must be “separated” from the Alexandra School.
This was made clear this afternoon by BSTU consultant and former long standing executive member Patrick Frost, who said nothing had change to make the union shift from its position.
He told this to Commission of Enquiry into Alexandra, in which sole Commissioner Frederick Waterman has been mandated to investigate a bitter industrial dispute and make recommendations to resolve it before the next school year begins next month.
During Frost’s testimony, Waterman made it clear he had no power to separate Broomes.
The retired teacher was giving evidence at the tribunal when the hearing continued at the Wildey Gymnasium, Garfield Sobers Sports Complex. His evidence was led by the commission’s junior counsel Michael Yearwood.
Yearwood: “Now as I understand it from all that we have heard the union took the position, Mr. Frost, that separation by whatever manner was the only solution to the dispute. Is that correct?”
Frost: “That is what we asked for, it was eminently reasonable then and now.”
Yearwood : “So you are saying that the union is still of that position?”
Frost: “There is nothing before us to make us alter it.”
He said there were many forms of separation, including those that were the purview of Broomes himself, such as retirement, and would be between the principal and his employer.
“What we have merely said was it was in the interest of everything for there to be separation and there are many forms of separation, and if Mr. Broomes selected one of two forms of separation that would have been action between him and his employer, it would not have involved the union,” he said.
“It would be then for his employer to come and say ‘union we have such and such a piece of correspondence there is separation are you happy now’?
Waterman told Frost: “I can’t separate Mr. Broomes… I have no power in law.”
He responded: “But the employer does, that is why the union sought to go to the door of the Public Service Commission, the Chief Personnel Officer, who stands before that door, which then leads to the Governor General where the actions of the Governor General in law will be on the advice of the Public Service Commission.”
Waterman: “But this merited strong punishment from Mr. Broomes’ employer?”
Frost: “But I have never used the word punishment at all. Separation does not employ, necessarily, punishment, that is a matter for the employer.”
Waterman: “What is involved? If he is promoted to the post of principal and you separate him … you are punishing him for having made that statement.”
Frost: “Any public officer, at any time, without any statement being made is subject to removal from one particular location and one job and placement in another location and/or another job, without any reference to loss of entitlement or what have you.”
He said this was despite the fact the principal’s letter of appointment stated he was appointed “principal, Alexandra Secondary School”.
Frost also said based on a protocol existing between the union and Government, the employer, which was forged during a similar dispute involved former principal of Coleridge and Parry Hallam King in 1996, the union had to ask for separation.
“What we stood behind was an agreement between a union and the Government as employer (that) you are not to use a speech day as a forum to be critical of teachers,” he testified.
“The issue was not if what Mr. King said was right, the issue was where it was said. The locus, we objected to that. So when Mr. Broomes on the second of December 2011 made similar comments the only consistent action we would have would be to object, not as an individual Mrs. Greaves on a personal grievance, but as a trade union with a breach of an agreement with an agent of the employer.
“And it is on that basis that the separation has to be made,” he added.
Frost said the protocol was “still existing and if it happened at another school tomorrow, God forbid, the same response would happen if the union is to be consistent to itself”. (SC)