The controversial decision to offer contracts rather than the usual permanent appointments to teachers who recently applied for principal and deputy principal positions is to be discussed among Ministry of Education stakeholders.
That assurance came on Tuesday from Minister of Education Kay McConney who said she would have further conversation with her team at the Ministry and the stakeholders before “we go forward at this stage”.
The contentious issue was raised on Monday by the Barbados Secondary Teachers’ Union (BSTU) and the Barbados Union of Teachers (BUT) who accused authorities of attempting to unilaterally change the terms and conditions under which principals and deputy principals are appointed in the public system.
Although not providing too many details about that particular situation, Minister McConney pointed out that there was prior discussion about transitioning from appointments to contracts for public servants, and that had already taken effect in some government agencies.
“We have come and discovered this to be the case at the Ministry and it’s important for us to recognise the value of everyone. We understand that in some cases, the public service may have already started the process. I think the Chief Education Officer [Dr Ramona Archer-Bradshaw] is herself on contract and there are some others who are on contract within the public service,” she explained.
“Where we will go after that needs to be a wider conversation at this stage, and as it relates to others within the Ministry, we shall at least be given that opportunity to have further discussions within the Ministry as well as with other stakeholders,” McConney added.
Educators who applied for the senior positions at the island’s public schools were informed through a letter from the Ministry of Education that they would be placed on contract, leading them to question what would happen to their decades of accumulated entitlements, such as pension rights and security of tenure, if their contracts were not renewed.
BSTU President Mary Redman told Barbados TODAY that she was concerned about the development, given that the Ministry was seeking to make the move without any explanation, consultation, or negotiation with the teachers’ unions. She called for a meeting to allow the unions to suggest how the arrangement can be best applied in the teaching service.
BUT’s President Rudy Lovell said the “unilateral” change from the existing terms of conditions of service could impact teachers’ ability to get loans or mortgages as they will have no security of tenure.