Friday, April 19, 2024

‘BSTU Ad won’t do’

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MINISTER OF EDUCATION Ronald Jones is willing to meet with the Barbados Secondary Teachers’ Union (BSTU) on the contentious Alexandra School issue, but they must write him first.“They have called for my intervention, but I am concerned that the president of the BSTU has issued a statement publicly but I have not seen one piece of correspondence addressed to the Minister outlining their case. I believe that it is normal and decent protocol for a trade union which wants the attention of an agency to write that agency directly.“I should not be picking up any ad asking where is the Minister in all of this. This is not a public process. I am ready to meet with the BSTU at a day’s notice but they, through the president, must write the Minister,” Jones said yesterday, when questioned by the media about a paid BSTU advertisement which appeared in the print media outlining the long-standing impasse between its members at the Alexandra School and principal Jeff Broomes. Jones, however, noted that his was a difficult task, since he, too, was involved in the trade union as a member of the Barbados Union of Teachers.In relation to the teachers’ grouse about the docking of their salaries, he said the act was clear that if a civil servant withdraws his services, the employer had a right to withhold the requisite part of his pay.He stated that the union felt that no letter should have been sent to the secretary treasurer asking for the docking of the pay.“It is a bit difficult since I was a trade union leader and as a trade union leader who would have called members to strike that resulted in a reduction of our salary . . . I don’t think you can negotiate law set in statute. As far as I am concerned you can’t be asking to withdraw the letter at this stage,” he charged.He said the school had suffered badly over the last year, and he had already detected a threat to “offset” the start of the new year.“The students are the victims in all of this. I met with the principal and I look forward to having this matter settled. We have to return to a situation of normalcy and discuss all of the issues that have impacted on the school going back to 2006.” The Minister said the Ministry had so far held eight meetings with the BSTU on the matter. He stressed that he was willing to meet the union but stated that there must be a complete suspension of any form of industrial process.

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