President of the Barbados Secondary Teachers’ Union (BSTU) Mary Redman is demanding an explanation from the Ministry of the Civil Service after a letter she wrote requesting withdrawal of her voluntary retirement from the teaching service was apparently leaked.
Calling the act “a serious breach of confidentiality”, an upset Redman explained that her correspondence was specifically addressed to the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education June Chandler and was submitted to the board of management of the Lodge School, where she is posted, on November 24.
“The act of taking a picture of my personal letter and circulating it via WhatsApp is an act to mischief and not the type of behaviour normally associated with public officers at any level in this country,” Redman said, adding that “it is not the type of behaviour that should be exhibited at any point in time and it is type of behaviour that should be frowned upon and investigated by the relevant authorities and I am calling on them to do so”.
The veteran educator explained that she had opted for retirement back in January, but since then “ongoing circumstances” have caused her to reconsider.
While pointing out that it was not uncommon for changes to be made to retirement dates, she stressed that only a handful of persons had access in the chain that such letters generally followed.
“In making that application I was acting with the authority and power of any public officer to withdraw such an application with good and sufficient reason and it is something that is done across the public service, not only in teaching.
“The letter, however, in its progress through the system would only have been made available to a limited number of officers, yet on December 3, I was sent a photograph of my letter to the PS via WhatsApp,” Redman said, adding that suggestions were now being made that her withdrawal of the application was in a bid to keep her job as head of the BSTU after she had threatened to resign from that post last month.
However, Redman dismissed such linkages as nonsense given that other persons have served on the executive of the BSTU long after they retired from teaching.
“This bears absolutely no reference to my public persona as the president of the BSTU and has nothing to do with the performance of my duties in that capacity,” she said before reeling off a list of past executives that had done so.
“I do not understand why there would therefore be attempts to make a legitimate common act by a private citizen and worker something of public concern in this manner,” she said while making it clear that “the fact that I have continued as president has been as a direct result of the refusal of the BSTU executive to accept my resignation”.
She also suggested that the BSTU had expressed a willingness to grant her a leave of absence to address her unspecified health concerns.
“I find it distressing that a public service once well known throughout the Caribbean for its professionalism; integrity, efficiency and transparency could now be seen to be guilty of such a breach and transgression of this type. What are the motivations in this scenario and what are the intended goals?” she asked.