Some factions within the Barbados Union of Teachers (BUT) are moving closer to their bid to oust their president Sean Spencer from the helm of that body.
Today, a letter bearing the 20 signatures needed to initiate the process was delivered to the union’s Welches, St. Michael headquarters around 2 p.m.
In mid-December, the BUT’s former Public Relations Officer Dwayne Goddard demanded Spencer’s resignation accusing him of failing to represent the collective interests of teachers. At the time, he was hoping to have the signatures before the end of the year. This however took longer than anticipated because members were “busy” over the Christmas period, making it more difficult for them to connect. But according to sources close to the situation, the process was further stalled by scores of disgruntled members who remain “too afraid” to speak out.
In December, sources in the union said Spencer was allowing “certain affiliations” to cloud his judgment and predicted that he would be called to account for his failure to carry out the directives of the membership.
These include his refusal to demand an apology from the Minister of Education Santia Bradshaw over comments, which reportedly “unfairly” criticised teachers as well as his reluctance to implement a union-approved three-point plan.
When contacted, General Secretary Herbert Gittens indicated he was out of office for the entire day on Wednesday but was informed that the letter and signatures had been presented.
“I was informed that a letter was at the office asking for the convening of a Special General Meeting. So when I go there tomorrow I will look at the letter and make sure that everything is in good order,” Gittens disclosed.
Incidentally, the union’s monthly executive meeting is slated for Thursday during which the body’s top brass would be able to examine and determine a date at which a general meeting and a vote on Spencer’s leadership can occur.
While the BUT’s constitution does not determine a timeline for such meetings to take place, it is customary that such matters should be addressed no later than 28 days after the letter and signatures are delivered.
When asked to comment on ongoing tensions in the unions, he said: “I don’t think it would be wise to comment on that right now. I would let the process take its natural course and I have to see the actual letter so we can determine what we actually have to do.”
Spencer in December said he was “quietly confident” in his standing among the membership when asked about his ability to withstand ongoing attempts to have him removed from office.
He further argued that his landslide victory at the union’s April 2019 election and increased membership during his tenure are all indicative of support for his stewardship.