The teachers’ unions here have received the backing of the island’s largest private sector trade union in their struggle to eliminate violence against teachers from Barbadian schools.
The Barbados Workers Union (BWU) today expressed solidarity with the Barbados Secondary Teachers’ Union (BSTU) and the Barbados Union of Teachers (BUT), which have called for the expulsion of a 13-year-old third form student of Ellerslie Secondary School accused of spitting at and kicking a teacher in her genitals earlier this week.
Both unions have also said they would seek to bring greater national attention to the problem of violence against teachers, as well as the steps they intended to take to address the situation.
“I stand on behalf of the executive council of the Barbados Workers Union in strong support of positions taken by our sister unions up to now,” BWU General Secretary Toni Moore said this morning following the official launch of May Day 2016 at Solidarity House.
The incident, as well as unconfirmed reports of a “choking” incident involving a teacher and a student at another Government-run school yesterday, appeared to support the contention by teachers and their representatives of a growing level of violence against educators.
Earlier this week, President of the National Council of Parent Teacher Association Shone Gibbs told Barbados TODAY he had been informed of four reports in recent weeks of students assaulting teachers. Another Ellerslie student also was reportedly suspended for one day after a teacher was “pushed right down”. That teacher, who is in her 50s, has since been sent on two years’ sick leave.
Moore, a former teacher, said today that the writing had been on the wall for a long time.
“I would have been aware of some instances, not serious as some of the ones being highlighted by the BSTU and the BUT over the past few weeks, but instances that raised red flags and had to be addressed even then and that was over a decade ago,” she revealed.
The BWU boss categorized the attacks as violence in the workplace, adding that they were serious enough to merit concern, not only within the education system but the wider society as well.
“This particular matter is a matter of workplace violence. It’s not coming in the format that we customarily expect it to be because when one speaks of workplace violence you tend to think about peer verses peer,” Moore said.
“As a society that is regarded as a mature society in our 50th year of independence, it should tell us something or ask us the question about the value systems that we have and where these are breaking down and where they need to be corrected,” she added.