The contentious docking of teachers’ pay last year is among of list of issues the Barbados Union of Teachers (BUT) intends to tackle this year, even as the union insists it wants a less acrimonious relationship with the Ministry of Education.
BUT President Pedro Shepherd told Barbados TODAY the fight to have the pay restored would continue in earnest this year.
The ministry docked the pay of teachers who attended two union meetings during school hours last April and May at the height of a major confrontation between the BUT, the Barbados Secondary Teachers’ Union (BSTU) and the Ronald Jones-led ministry. The ministry contended the teachers’ absence was tantamount to a strike, since it had not given its blessing to the meetings.
“The docking of pay is still an outstanding issue. We have tried our best to work with the Ministry of Education to have the salary restored; we would have gone as high as the Prime Minister seeking to have the salary restored,” Shepherd said.
Unsuccessful in its pursuit of a settlement, the union turned the matter over to the Congress of Trade Unions and Staff Associations of Barbados (CTUSAB) last November.
Shepherd said even as the BUT was awaiting word from CTUSAB on how it intends to proceed, the union would not sit still “because we have some members who are asking the union to provide them with whatever representation is necessary – legal or otherwise”.
“So it is still an issue that BUT will actively pursue in 2017,” the union boss said.
Shepherd said there were a number of other matters that the union was looking forward to having resolved this year, including the appointment of teachers, regular meetings with education officials and general conditions of work.
However, he said he was looking forward to the disputes being resolved in a cordial manner in order to avoid the bitterness of recent years.
”[We are] hoping that it will not be a year of confrontation but rather a year that we can sit down and discuss and come to amicable conclusions on these matters and take education forward, and we are hoping that the Ministry of Education would accede to our request so that 2017 would not be a repeat of 2016 or 2015.”
The BUT and the BSTU are holding a joint meeting tomorrow to discuss the issues facing teachers in the coming school term.