President of the Barbados Secondary Teachers’ Union (BSTU) Mary Redman is charging that the promised establishment of the long awaited Teachers Service Commission could be little more than “election talk” by Prime Minister Freundel Stuart.
Speaking at yesterday’s church service at Bethesda Tabernacle in Vauxhall, Christ Church to mark the 62nd anniversary of the establishment of the Democratic Labour Party, Stuart revealed that a 1974 constitutional provision for a teachers commission would come into effect “in a matter of weeks” and would separate teachers from other public officers, although the teacher would remain subject to the oversight of the Public Service Commission (PSC) for discipline and appointments.
Teachers have been demanding such a body for a long time, and generally welcome its proposed formation.
However, in an address this afternoon at a BSTU meeting at the Dalkeith Road headquarters of the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW), Redman questioned how Stuart intended to set up this new entity in such a short time span when the teachers or their unions had not yet been consulted.
“We hear of the setting up of the teachers service commission and we hope that this is much more than just election talk. This is something that the BSTU has been asking for year after year. I understand that it is supposed to be set up in a couple for weeks and I am concerned about that aspect because we need proper consultation, we need involvement of all the stakeholders, we need to understand the constitution and position of this commission as well as its structure,” Redman said.
The BSTU president took issue with Stuart’s suggestion that the PSC would continue to have oversight, slamming it as an attempt to sell the current system in new packaging.
“It does not make sense to have a teachers service commission if it is similar in structure to the Police Service Commission where the actions to be taken still end up lumped together with the rest of the Public Service Commission because nothing effectively would have changed,” she argued.
Redman was of the view that any new body to manage the teaching service must have the autonomy to resolve the concerns of teachers speedily.
“We need a teachers service commission with a different type of structure that would allow our issues to be dealt with effectively, to be dealt with efficiently and to be dealt with expeditiously. Otherwise they could save their time, effort and money that the setup of the commission would cost. So we need to be engaged in this whole plan as soon as possible,” the trade unionist insisted.
Earlier, President of the Barbados Union of Teachers Pedro Shepherd had told Barbados TODAY that he had reservations about the independence of the proposed body. He also expressed the hope that such a body would end the protracted issue of teacher appointments.