Teachers at the Alexandra School who went on strike in January are not perfect or blameless, but neither are they heartless.
That’s how former trade union leader Patrick Frost responded to questions on whether those who took industrial action did so without considering the impact it would have on their students.
He was continuing his testimony at the Commission of Enquiry into Alexandra today.
“The children are going to argue that they are used as pawns, but by whom? Not the teachers, because the evidence given to the union is that they have done the extra classes, they have done their best to try and catch up,” he said.
“Consideration of the students is always there. You have people at the Alexandra School who have taught for years, would they abandon all that they have done lightly? Would they abandon that professional approach? They only suspend it.”
Commissioner Frederick Waterman asked the Barbados Secondary Teachers Union consultant if the teachers were in any way responsible for the problem at Alexandra.
“Anybody anywhere can always say in a general way there is bound to be some imperfection, you don’t protect the imperfection but you have to protect the integrity of the system and that is what the union tries to do,” he said.
Frost said what had taken place at the St. Peter learning institution meant the teachers had been unable to exercise their responsibility.
“People have bourne and taken what they did not feel was just treatment, they have reacted to it by writing letters, by coming to the union, that has taken place, that the point was reached where they could no longer bear their responsibility for accepting what was happening at the school,” he stated.
“There are some persons who bore more than others, but in a collegial setting people have things in common, it is only natural that when you wound my neighbour you wound me, when you affect the job of my neighbour you affect me, and if I see something happening there then can it not happen to me tomorrow to my disadvantage?
“It is a complicated situation, you are dealing with human beings of a large number and each one will have their own peculiarities… You only need those circumstances put together and the wrong trigger and you get an explosion and that is what happened there.” (SC)