Fresh trouble appears to brewing on the industrial relations front, following last week’s ultimatum issued by the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) to the management of the state-run Barbados Investment and Development Corporation (BIDC).
As the NUPW prepares to meet later this week with workers at all statutory corporations to discuss the implications of last week’s termination of 13 BIDC workers, who were over the age of 60, the Barbados Union of Teachers (BUT) today served notice of possible disruption at the start of the next school term in September, unless the Ministry of Education meets with it before then to resolve a number of outstanding grievances.
In an interview with Barbados TODAY this afternoon, BUT President Pedro Shepherd revealed that he had written to the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education June Chandler this week “outlining about 15 to 20 areas” for discussion.
“So I am giving the Ministry some time to act on that and certainly during the summer if we don’t get any response from the Ministry re: a meeting to discuss these matters, then we would have to use some other means of getting the attention of the Ministry,” warned Shepherd.
Among the outstanding issues the teachers have been pressing Government to resolve was that of appointments.
Shepherd said while some appointments had recently been made at the secondary level, “we still have the outstanding matters of appointments at the primary level”.
He noted that just under 1,000 people had applied for teaching jobs at primary schools.
“We were told the list was completed. It went to the Ministry for further checks, went back to PAD [Personnel Administration Division] like two months ago [and] we still cannot get any communication from PAD re: appointments in the primary system,” he complained.
The BUT president further lamented that issues raised by some of its members about the management style of two principals – Jeff Broomes at the Parkinson Memorial Secondary and Valdez Francis of Alma Parris Secondary – were still unresolved.
“The Ministry has said that they were going to do their investigations, plan of action, whatever between January and July. We are approaching July now; so I guess we still have to wait for those,” he said.
However, Shepherd said the union was prepared to pursue these and other outstanding grievances between now and the start of the new school year on September 1.
“Which would include . . . the appointment of subject coordinators, markers in Language Arts, Science . . . a whole range of issues we need to have sorted”.
As for the call by the Mary Redman – led Barbados Secondary Teachers Union (BSTU) for a teachers’ boycott of the Caribbean Examination Council’s (CXC) over non payment for marking School Based Assessments, Shepherd said the BUT was awaiting the results of a recent survey of its members on the issue.
“We just did a questionnaire and sent it out to our members in schools, so we are waiting,” he said, noting that the teachers’ responses were supposed to be back last Friday, but all were not yet in.
“We are awaiting response from teachers, then [we will] make our statement,” he said, acknowledging that the union might not be able to do that before the end of the term.