Barbados Union of Teachers’ (BUT) presidential candidate Pedro Shepherd has refuted claims that he plans to use the post to boost his political agenda if he is elected in next month’s elections.
A post being circulated to BUT members on social media, warns that Shepherd, who has publicly expressed interest in running for the Democratic Labour Party (DLP), would use his position as BUT president to attack Government if successful in the April 12 elections.
“Please let Pedro Shepherd who has signalled his intention to run for party politics know that we will not allow him to use BUT as a forum for him or the DLP to attack Government,” the post states.
However, in an interview with Barbados TODAY, Shepherd, who served as BUT president from 2012 to 2018, maintained that he was only interested in representing the interests of teachers.
Furthermore, he said this was not the first time he had expressed an interest in representing the DLP, as he had done so on two previous occasions.
In fact, Shepherd who was defeated by Shawn Spencer in last year’s BUT elections said he had agitated for teachers when the DLP was in power.
“For a person to make those comments shows that person clearly does not know me because this is not the first time that I have expressed an interest in running for the DLP. I expressed an interest as far back as 2013 and then again in 2018 and now I’m doing it for a third time so it is not new.
“And anybody who followed my trade unionism, as well as my political life, would know that the DLP was in office from 2008 until 2018 and I as the president of the BUT, was the most vocal person against Minister [of Education] Ronald Jones and by extension, other members of the Cabinet. So if it had anything to do with politics, I would have been the most quiet BUT president over the last six years,” Shepherd contended.
He said he had been asked to run for president by the union’s members, because of his strong representation in the past.
Shepherd said during his six-year stint as president, he had always put the needs of teachers first.
“It is not about politics, it’s about teachers. Whoever is in power and there is reason for me to have to represent the interests of teachers that is what I am going to do.
“It doesn’t matter if the BLP is in power, the DLP is in power, Solutions Barbados in power, the UPP in power or Atherley’s party is in power, as president of the BUT I am representing teachers,” Shepherd said.