The President of the Barbados Secondary Teachers’ Union (BSTU) Mary Redman says a lack of industrial relations (IR) training is responsible for many of the problems the school system is experiencing.
Redman claimed that for many years, BSTU has attempted to persuade Ministry of Education officials of the necessity to train members of school boards in IR and has even suggested that such training should form a prerequisite for the acceptance of positions on boards.
“Chairpersons and especially key board employees like secretary treasurers have created many problems because of this lack of a basic knowledge of IR principles, procedures and even of the relevant legislation. Many chairpersons, we have found have been influenced by some principals who have their own agendas.
“And because of their lack of IR exposure and knowledge of legislation, they create and get themselves in many breaches of the rights of education workers. Within recent times, we have been experiencing serious problems with some secretary treasurers who are acting outside of their authority.
“We have too many contentious issues being addressed in this regard at the moment. In both cases, the genesis of these matters have been aided and abetted by principals in those schools,” Redman lamented.
The President raised her concerns about the vexing issue as she delivered remarks at a press conference hosted by the Congress of Trade Unions and Staff Associations of Barbados, to discuss industrial relations issues developing in the education sector. It was held at the Barbados Union of Teachers (BUT) headquarters, this morning.
Redman said she was also concerned about unfair dismissals, obstructed appointments, illegal secondments within the teaching service, denial of members’ legitimate expectations to continued employment, lack of acknowledgement of correspondence from the union, unwillingness to set up requested meetings, and a disregard for the process of the grievance procedure as outlined in the Public Service Act.
“This procedure has been established specifically to stop grievances from escalating into disputes and that important rationale for the existence of this legislation is obviously unknown and unappreciated by those who should know better. It has been our experience that there is little regard for this legislation,” she said.
Noting that BSTU was also concerned about the handling of the review process by school boards regarding teachers evaluation, Redman said the Union expects that authorities will take appropriate actions to remedy the lapses in IR best practice by school boards and to engender the quality of industrial relations that will redound to the benefit who work and learn in educational institutions. (AH)