Minister of Health John Boyce has described as “unreasonable” the latest demand issued by the umbrella Barbados Union of Teachers (BUT) to Minister of Education Ronald Jones.
Following last Friday’s emergency meeting called by the BUT at the Garfield Sobers Gymnasium to discuss a number of pressing issues, including the worrying problem of violence in schools, the BUT President Pedro Shepherd had given Jones until Wednesday to agree to meet with his members or face possible industrial action.
However, while throwing his full support behind his Cabinet colleague, Boyce has said: ”I don’t think it is reasonable to expect a minister to come and meet with 400 teachers, I mean can that work? Unless you have a specially arranged conference of some sort, that will be a recipe for a shouting match.”
In the immediate aftermath of the union’s ultimatum, Boyce said he had contacted Jones by phone “to encourage him to just hold fast and firm and to work at getting a solution which is acceptable to all the parties involved.
“We have to have reasonableness, we have to have order,” he insisted.
The Minister of Health however called for greater communication between the two sides.
“I think that both sides must be encouraged to establish good grounds of communication and let’s see the matter sorted out. I am sure Ronald [Jones] is going to do that. He has assured me that he going to try and stay with the issues,” Boyce added.
Friday’s BUT meeting lasted for four hours and coincided with a similar meeting called by its sister union, the Barbados Secondary Teachers Union, which led to the early closure of schools across the island.
Shepherd told reporters the island’s teachers were fed up and needed to talk to the minister “face to face”.
And he warned that if Jones did not meet with members by Wednesday then teachers would not attend classes on Friday, adding, “we are prepared to stay home until the minister meets [with us]”. (FW)