STATEMENT: The Industrial Dispute at the Alexandra School in St. Peter

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The Ministry of Education and Human Resource Development (MEHR) has urged the Barbados Secondary Teachers Union (BSTU) to accept that the Ministry is following the Grievance Handling Procedure as set out in the Fourth Schedule of the Public Service Act to ensure that the situation at the Alexandra School is appropriately handled.

This was stated today by Acting Permanent Secretary in the MEHR, Bruce Alleyne, who stressed that this was the manner in which the issue, at the school in Speighstown, St. Peter, should be dealt with by the BSTU.

He noted that the union was clearly not adhering to the process which should have seen the BSTU addressing it at the level of the school, then the MEHR and then the Ministry of the Civil Service/the Chief Personnel Officer.?? According to him failing this, the BSTU, who is well aware of the grievance handling procedure, should proceed to the Head of the Civil Service.

Mr. Alleyne further revealed that the Ministry of Education and Human Resource Development had met with the BSTU only last Friday, December 30, 2011, to discuss the alleged statements made by the Principal of the Alexandra School, Jeffrey Broomes, at that school’s Speech Day on Friday, December 2, 2011. ??He said the meeting, which was chaired by him, was attended by the Acting Chief Education Officer, Laurie King, other senior officers from the Ministry of Education and Human Resource Development, the Executive of the BSTU, as well as some teachers from the Alexandra School.

At that meeting, the Union agitated for the separation of the Principal from the school because of his management style and his (Mr. Broomes’)?? public criticism of a particular "senior?? teacher" who Mr. Broomes alleged in his speech "went through an entire term refusing?? to teach a class of fourth form students who were assigned to her".

The BSTU was informed at the meeting with the Permanent Secretary that natural justice demanded that the Ministry further its investigation by hearing the perspective of the Principal, Jeffrey Broomes.??

The Permanent Secretary noted that a meeting had been scheduled for some time this week (that is the week ending January 6, 2012) but was not convenient for the Principal’s representatives from the National Union of Public Workers. ??Mr. Alleyne reported that the meeting with Mr. Broomes is now slated for next week, Thursday, January 12, 2012, at 10:00 a.m.

The Permanent Secretary stressed that the Ministry of Education and Human Resource Development was seriously concerned that the BSTU was not following the Grievance Handling Procedure. ??He therefore urged that the industrial action be brought to an end as the Ministry could not continue to negotiate under duress.

Adding that the Ministry was also concerned about the education of the children at the Alexandra School, Mr. Alleyne said: "We do not want the students to suffer because of industrial action, and it is imperative that the school settles down in the interest of our children who have to benefit from academic and extra-curricular activities."

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