He may be a member of the Barbados Union of Teachers (BUT) but Victor Benn is not pleased with way the union’s executive has been seeking to get Government to resolve pressing issues affecting teachers.
Recalling that the Ministry of Education and the union had met on the issues before, Benn, who is also treasurer of the ruling Democratic Labour Party (DLP) St Peter branch, said “at the end of the exercise we were satisfied that the ministry has taken the position that has been expected of the ministry.
“But I have a serious concern. I am a member of the Barbados Union of Teachers and I have the following concerns. One, why is the executive of my union seeking to escalate a matter in a public forum; a matter that I believe could have been handled quite differently.
“The question I would ask is, who is going to benefit from the position that has been taken?” he said.
Benn was addressing a St Peter branch meeting at the All Saints Skills Training Centre in Mile-and-a-Quarter Sunday night.
“I am extremely concerned that the Barbados Union of Teachers did not seek to use their leverage,” he said, pointing out that both Minister of Education Ronald Jones and Chief Education Officer Karen Best were both past presidents of the BUT.
He argued that by “bringing the matter in the public domain” the current BUT executive was disrespecting the Minister of Education and ignoring the Chief Education Officer “to the detriment of teachers”.
“They have more leverage inside the ministry than any other union at any point in time in Barbados. And I am concerned that they sought to go to the public without addressing a situation, which had the possibility of affecting the lives of teachers, without making a phone call,” he said.
Meanwhile, Minister of Housing and Lands Denis Kellman warned BUT President Pedro Shepherd to be careful of how he was going about the matter, adding that he was “about to now dilute himself”.
Kellman, who was also addressing the
St Peter branch meeting of the DLP, said “if every time you ask the Minister of Education to do something for you and you come to the press and say he is not doing anything, it means that you too not achieving anything then”.
Highlighting the recent appointment of hundreds of teachers, Kellman said the president of the BUT had not recognized “how much he has been able to force the Minister of Education to do for him”.
“What he needs to do is stop bad-mouthing the Government and what he needs to do is start telling his members how much we have been able to do for them in such a short period of time,” said Kellman.