Teachers will trade the classroom for the streets of The City Wednesday morning, in their own version of the march of disgust staged here last month to protest against the Freundel Stuart administration’s handling of the economy.
However, to separate themselves from the Opposition Barbados Labour Party-organized event which saw an estimated 10,000 people walk through the streets of the capital, the teachers have dubbed Wednesday’s protest a march of respect to send a strong message to the Ministry of Education that they would not back down on their demands for payment to correct school-based assessment (SBA) projects.
It was an angry crowd of teachers who packed the auditorium at Solidarity House two weeks ago for an emotionally charged meeting at which they decided to not only defy the ministry over the SBA issue, but also to fight fire with fire.
“At our last meeting just under two weeks ago, the membership insisted that they wanted to engage in some form of protest and they were tired of the number of ways in which teachers and the union were being disrespected . . . and we decided [that] whatever action we took had to be to highlight the disrespect and demand respect . . . and [teachers] mandated the officers to come up with some form of action that should happen before the term ends,” said Mary Redman, President of the Barbados Secondary Teachers’ Union (BSTU), which is spearheading the march.
The march will start at 10 a.m. in Queen’s Park, a stone’s throw away from the ministry, and travel along St Michael’s Row, Bridge Street, River Road, with a brief stop in front of the Personnel Administration Division offices on Culloden Road.
From there, the demonstrating teachers will return to BSTU headquarters on Pine Road, St Michael to conclude a three-hour break from the classroom.
Redman told Barbados TODAY the BSTU has invited sister unions – the Barbados Union of Teachers (BUT), the Barbados Workers Union (BWU), the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) and the Congress of Trade Unions and Staff Associations (CTUSAB) – to lend whatever support they deemed appropriate.
BUT President Pedro Shepherd has said his organization would not be marching, even though individual teachers were free to do so.
While the NUPW is backing the BSTU in its cause, it would not be on the streets due to its elections tomorrow. Neither BWU General Secretary Toni Moore nor CTUSAB President Cedric Murrell could be reached for comment.