The Barbados Secondary Teachers’ Union (BSTU) is claiming victory in its battle with the Ministry of Education over the suspension of a teacher and environmental problems at St George Secondary School.
And BSTU President Mary Redman is attributing the union’s success to its recent March of Respect in the capital to demand action on a number of issues, primarily Government’s refusal to pay teachers for marking school-based assessment (SBA) projects administered by the Caribbean Examinations Council.
While the SBA issue remains unresolved, Redman told members meeting this afternoon at the headquarters of the National Union of Public Workers at Dalkeith Road, St Michael, that the reinstatement of a teacher, whose status had been uncertain for four months, and action on the sewage stink at the St George Secondary School, were signs that the Ronald Jones-led ministry had taken note of the strong message that had been sent by the marching teachers on April 5.
“Our march has already reaped rewards because in short order we have gotten a meeting to deal with the problems at St George Secondary School. Perhaps our calls reached the second floor [the Personnel Administration Office on April 5] because [the teacher who was placed on suspension due to a court matter four months ago] got a letter on Friday saying that she is reinstated in her position,” Redman said to loud applause from the gathering of teachers who were meeting to determine the most impactful response should the ministry carry out its threat to dock the pay of those who had participated in the march.
It was during the strategy meeting that Redman made the point the “bullying tactics” of the ministry were no match for workers standing in solidarity.
However, she cautioned members not to take these “forced concessions” as signs that the ministry’s top brass had seen the light.
She stressed that the ministry’s insistence on meeting with teachers on important matters near, or at the end of, the work day, was an example of the continued disrespect.
The Ministry of Education has summoned a meeting tomorrow afternoon to discuss environmental issues at St George Secondary School.
“The meeting was originally scheduled for Wednesday at 9:30 a.m. but I received a call today stating that the meeting is now 2:30 p.m. tomorrow. I have a problem with that because 2:30p.m. is nearing the end of your school day. We will have to show up but when we go we will raise an objection.
“The ministry has this thing about scheduling meetings at 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. where you then have to sit down after your full day of work and engage in meetings that only touch two or three items of a long agenda. Then soon into the meeting, someone from the ministry’s side would say they are hungry or that they have husbands to go home to. So we have a problem with the timing of these meeting,” Redman stressed.