BUT president Belinda Wilson.
By RIEL MAJOR
Tribune Staff Reporter
THE Ministry of Education has cut the salaries of approximately 75 teachers from CH Reeves Junior High School and Carlton Francis Primary School, according to Bahamas Union of Teachers president Belinda Wilson.
Mrs Wilson said the union is seeking legal advice on the matter and will “continue to fight for the rights of our members and ensure that their rights are protected”.
“The Ministry of Education used armed police officers to lock out teachers at Carlton Francis Primary School for the eighth week now. Teachers at CH Reeves are working in unsanitary, unsafe working conditions. Water was not on in the school for more than three weeks when school opened in September,” she said.
“Construction work is still going on. The Ministry of Education has not worked in good faith and taking away teachers’ salaries during this time of hardship is nothing short of heartless. Acting director Marcellus Taylor refuses to communicate with the union and only sends paper down to principals who carry out misguided, illegal acts that are in breach of the industrial agreement and the law.”
She added: “Change must come to the Ministry of Education and soon if we are to educate our children and improve the educational system.”
Last week, Mrs Wilson accused Education Minister Jeff Lloyd of not being forthcoming about the issues at Carlton Francis Primary School and CH Reeves Junior High.
Speaking to reporters outside Church of God of Prophecy on Friday, Mrs Wilson said Mr Lloyd is disingenuous, adding BUT followed all the steps that were laid out in the union’s grievance procedures. She said the minister needs to “speak the truth”.
She said: “When we talked about Carlton Francis School, I can produce for you documentation from October 2017 with the list of grievances and concerns that the teachers would have encountered with the principal and even other matters pertaining to their teaching, learning and the campus.
“Mr Lloyd is quite aware that we would have written not only to Mr Lloyd, the minister of education, prior to Mr Lloyd even coming we have documentation to the former permanent secretary, to the former director. And since 2017 to present we’ve written to the acting director, Marcellus Taylor, to the permanent secretary, Lorraine Armbrister, to the honourable minister, Jeffrey Lloyd.”
Mrs Wilson said her union is prepared to take legal steps to have the issues at the Carlton Francis Primary School resolved. The teachers there have been agitating for the school’s principal to be removed.
Outside Cabinet last week, Mr Lloyd expressed his disappointment in teachers at CH Reeves for continued protests.
Speaking to reporters, Mr Lloyd said his ministry is seeking to resolve whatever outstanding issues the teachers have.
He said: “I’m advised that there were concerns with regards to classroom space. That matter, I’m advised, has been resolved. I was also advised that teachers were unhappy about having to float. . . from one classroom to the next. I understand that matter too is being resolved. The principal, along with the district superintendent and our main offices, are seeking to address that.”
He added that he is “painfully disappointed” that the processes outlined for disagreements between union members and the Ministry of Education were not followed in this case.
Mr Lloyd said if the industrial agreement in question is no longer serving its purpose, all parties need to sit down and come to a new agreement.
“This is deeply troubling; it is troubling because, one, we have an agreement. That agreement should be respected, if that agreement and its terms no longer serve the purpose for which it was originally intended and it does not serve those purposes today, they’re adults, we are reasonable, intelligent and smart people,” he said.