CTUSAB’s President’s Address delivered to 39th BUT at Sir Hugh Springer Auditorium
It is a distinct honour and privilege to bring fraternal greetings from the Congress of Trade Unions and Staff Associations of Barbados (CTUSAB), to this 39th Annual Conference of the Barbados Union of Teachers.
First, let me congratulate your Union on its growth and development since 1974 when the decision was taken by the then Teachers Division of the National Union of Public Workers (NUPW) to graduate from being a division of that union, to being an independent trade union.
Those who championed the move at that time, like Carl Springer and the late John Cumberbatch and Marjorie Marshall, can today be hailed as visionaries, who in large measure, characterized a move that was aimed at improving the professional status of teachers.
As you celebrate your 39th anniversary as a trade union and professional body, it is to the credit of your President and Executive Board, that they have seen the need to revisit the basis of your Union’s existence, by revisiting the issue of the professional status of the teacher.
In identifying with the chosen theme ‘Improving the Professional Status of Teachers: A Necessary Imperative,’ the Congress holds the view that it could easily be extended to be the subject of discussion for all trade unions and staff associations who represent professionals in the Public and Private Sector.
CTUSAB asserts that teachers are invaluable to the development of the nation. You play a decisive role in communicating the value system, culture, norms and mores that guide the shaping of the minds, character, talents, skills, attitudes, aptitudes and ethics of all of our people.
Teaching is often referred to as ‘the noble profession,’ however, you may contend that your contribution to the building of the society and economy as teachers is not sufficiently recognized in accordance with that characterization, and that you are not accorded the requisite benefits, privileges and commensurate pay for the job that you do.
CTUSAB believes that security of tenure for teachers and other public officers is a necessary imperative if the matter of the professional status of these employees is to be addressed.
In an era where teaching as a profession may not be attracting the best of our graduates coming out of the universities; this should send a clear signal to the authorities that the teaching profession is in need of urgent attention.
The introduction of measures, such as a pay scale with the requisite relativities that encourages teachers to teach and not hanker after being administrators, may certainly be a first step towards addressing this matter.
At the end of 2007, a new Public Service Act was passed which was subsequently amended in 2010. CTUSAB has always held that though the intention of the passing of that Act might have been laudable, some of its provisions were flawed.
In September 2011, at the invitation of the Head of the Civil Service, CTUSAB submitted a fifty eight page document with our comments on the legislation. Additional comments were submitted in October 2011 and despite several reminders, we are still to receive an invitation to a face to face meeting to discuss those comments and recommendations.
As it relates to conducting interviews to fill all posts within the Public Service. Although we recognize that the Public Services Commission has a responsibility to act within the confines of the law, we however believe that the process of appointments could be expedited, if as we content; the wording of the law should not obligate a Commission to interview each candidate who may meet the minimum requirements for an office.
To be specific, CTUSAB has proposed that the Act be amended to read:
‘A Commission or its selection panel is not obligated to interview each candidate who meets the minimum requirements for an office, but instead may use appropriate screening assessment methods or techniques to determine the most suitably qualified candidates to be short listed.’
As I close, I call for serious consideration to be given to your demand for the establishment of a Collective Bargaining Agreement for teachers; as I consider this a meaningful vehicle towards improving your professional standing.
My wish is for fruitful and enlightening discussions at your 39th Annual General Conference, and I urge your Executive Committee and members to promote and uphold the ideals that will contribute to maintaining the dignity of your profession.