The Congress of Trade Unions and Staff Associations of Barbados (CTUSAB) is calling on Minister of Education Santia Bradshaw to investigate the actions of the Chairman of the Board of Management and Principal of the Princess Margaret School and to take disciplinary action if there are any fundamental breaches of office.
CTUSAB’s President Edwin O’Neal made the call as he told members of the media during a press conference this morning that there was a matter being played out at Princess Margaret Secondary where the decision of the Board of Management to fill the vacant post of Secretary Treasurer has been stalled.
Giving details on the matter, O’Neal said it has been reported to CTUSAB that instead of executing the decision of the Board to appoint the successful candidate subsequent to the completion of the interview process, the Chairman of the Board has resorted to the issuing of a letter of an acting appointment for the position.
“It has also been reported that the officer has subsequently been issued with a letter of suspension on full pay, until the Board of Management could investigate 14 changes brought against the individual.
“It is the understanding that the suspension was done without the knowledge and approval of the Board. The fact of the matter is that the Chairman has no authority to execute a suspension of the employee. With respect to 14 charges, it has been reported that the members of the Board of Management have had no prior knowledge of these,” he said.
O’ Neal added that in further developments, on reporting for duty on December 31, 2019, the secretary treasurer who has served as secretary to the principal for 17 years was informed by the security guard on duty that the Chairman had directed him that the officer was not permitted to trespass on the premises.
The President explained that nevertheless, the officer proceeded to the office, only to find that the locks to the office had been changed. Subsequent to this, the police were summoned to remove the officer from the premises, O’Neal said.
He said with the resulting development having been drawn to the attention of CTUSAB, the matter was brought to the attention of the Barbados Union of Teachers (BUT), Barbados Secondary Teachers’ Union (BSTU) and the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW), and an urgent meeting was requested with the Ministry of Education, Technological and Vocational Training to discuss the matter.
“Given the urgency of the matter, the Congress indicated that it stood ready to meet as early as Friday, January 2, 2020. Regrettably, no meeting has been scheduled or convened to date,” he said.
“Coming out of this Princess Margaret Secondary matter, CTUSAB has learnt of an intended notice served by a senior Ministry of Education official, at a recently convened emergency meeting of the Board of Management of the Princess Margaret School, of the intention to request of CTUSAB, the removal of its representative on the Board of Management of the School.
“CTUSAB deems this as preposterous, and goes further to denounce and warns against any such suggested action, which it perceives as a threat to silence the voice of the labour movement in executing its role to defend workers’ rights and injustices against workers,” O’Neal continued.
Also speaking at the press conference, Deputy General Secretary of the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW), Wayne Walrond, condemned the developments at Princess Margaret Secondary, which was not in keeping with good governance or proper labour management relations.
Walrond said if the unprecedented action is allowed to continue, there would be implications for other Boards of Management and across the public sector.
The Deputy General Secretary said there cannot a situation where decisions are made to appoint persons, but other actions are taken instead.
He said NUPW was disturbed and annoyed at the development and would back its comrades in pursuing any appropriate course of action to bring justice.
“What is interesting in this development is there is an officer who passed competitive process recommended, a decision made. And simultaneously following on the heels of that is 14 charges, allegedly. Is this a concocted move to discredit the officer?
“The officer was good enough to reach the competitive position and to be earmarked to be suitable, and then you could [come up with] 14 charges. Something is wrong, I smell a fish. Something is fishy about this situation,” Walrond said. (AH)