Categorized | National News

Minister Angers Union

Despite warnings from the education minister that any form of industrial action would be met with suitable consequences, Bahamas Union of Teachers (BUT) President Belinda Wilson led her members on a march to the Office of the Prime Minister to demand an intervention.

Late Sunday, Minister Jerome Fitzgerald made it known that he was aware of plans that the union was planning some form of industrial action prompting the minister to issue a strong advisory to teachers stating unequivocally that they were expected to report to work by 8:45 a.m. Monday and failure to do so what result in appropriate repercussions.

But Mrs. Wilson said the minister’s comments amount to threats and he is attempting to prevent union members from exercising their rights.

“The minister has threatened our teachers this morning and we do not take threats lightly,” she said. “So this morning in a show of solidarity, we marched to the Ministry of Education here in New Providence and in Grand Bahama, we had hundreds of teachers out to an early morning meeting and we’re here now at the Office of the Prime Minister because we want the prime minister to caution the minister of education because he seems to be making policies and rules as he sees fit based on his emotions and his feelings.”

The minister has further instructed that the teachers meet with their union representatives during off school hours and weekends.

Last week, union executives were denied entrance to the Anatol Rodgers High School where they were attempting to meet with the teachers.

“A sit-in means that they [the teachers] are sitting in the school,” Mrs. Wilson said. “As long as he [the minister] says that the union executives cannot go into the school to have meetings then we will have our meetings outside the school campus. We will have morning meetings, break time meetings, lunchtime meetings and after school meetings.”

Mrs. Wilson explained that the teachers are upset that their industrial agreement is not being honoured by the government.

“The teachers are upset about the principals; we are upset about the $5.2 million owed to us – we’re upset at how the government went and took money out of our teachers’ salaries without their consent – we’re upset about the breaches of the collective bargaining agreement. We are frustrated.”

The union has been pressing the government to remove two principals threatening last week to remain out of school until their demands were met. However, those principals have not been removed nor reassigned.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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