MINISTRY OF EDUCATION AND HUMAN RESOURCE DEVELOPMENT CALLS FOR CO-OPERATION IN THE HANDLING OF THE INDUSTRIAL DISPUTE AT ALEXANDRA SCHOOL
The inflaming of the current industrial relations climate can only thwart any and all efforts to satisfactorily and amicably resolve the current industrial relations impasse at the Alexandra School. All parties must allow good sense to prevail. The call by the Ministry of Education and Human Resource Development for a cessation of all industrial action to allow negotiation and discussion to continue at the table is part of mature industrial relations practice and has been embedded in Barbados’ Industrial Relations Practice, over many years.
This Ministry has no intention of getting into any interpretation of correct grievance handling procedures. We recognise that might can sometimes be interpreted as right. The interest of this Ministry has always been deliberating with all contending parties to ensure that truth, justice and fairness are always observed.
This specific portfolio of Cabinet has engaged with the Barbados Secondary Teachers’ Union (BSTU) many times, on issues which have been referred to it by that Union. Several issues were resolved to the best of our knowledge and by agreement. We have seen some of these issues being placed back on the agenda and reference to several of these historical issues does nothing to resolve any of the matters.
The current issue, which appears to be the central issue, is one which was placed on the table by the BSTU only in December of 2011 and the Ministry of Education and Human Resource Development has to be allowed the time to satisfactorily carry out its investigation into the accusation of the Principal that a teacher deliberately did not teach a class of students for some prolonged period, even when asked to do so by the Principal. If this is in fact true, it speaks to a dereliction of duty and gross insubordination. These are dangerous charges for any employee of the state and as such have to be carefully investigated and assessed.
The accusations levelled against the Principal of the school by the Union have to be so similarly dealt with.
Teachers who are at schools are reminded that they have a duty of care and must look after the students as long as they are on the school premises. Any call for teachers to go to school and not conduct themselves relative to their remit is dangerous and can have severe legal implications for those teachers if any harm comes to any student who should have been in any teacher’s care. Therefore, any call for teachers to sit in should not be condoned.
The interest of the students remains the Ministry’s singular priority, that is why the Ministry of Education and Human Resource Development has asked for a cessation of industrial action while this matter is carefully and fully investigated. We urge the fullest cooperation of all parties in this matter. The Ministry of Education and Human Resource Development reserves the right to implement strategies to protect the interest and well-being of all students who are the pawns in a battle that they have not contributed to.
The Ministry of Education and Human Resource Development further calls for an end to accusations and counter-accusations of each contending party since this cannot and will not advance the process.