‘Pleasant’ surprise

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The Barbados Union of Teachers (BUT) appears to be throwing the weight of its membership behind a longstanding fight by their secondary teacher colleagues who are demanding payment from the main regional examining body for payment for marking School-based Assessments (SBA).

For more than a decade the Barbados Secondary Teachers’ Union (BSTU) has been agitating for Barbadian teachers to be compensated for marking the SBA component of the Caribbean Examinations Council’s (CXC) examination which forms part of several subjects offered across the region. The hierarchy of the Barbados Secondary Teachers’ Union (BSTU) says they are pleasantly surprised that their sister union has finally come around to their position.

“We have been fighting this at the level of the Caribbean Union of Teachers (CUT) since 2006 and the BUT never spoke up on this and never encouraged their members to take a stand. So, I am very surprised now at the fact that they have. I don’t know if things have changed because there is no representation from the secondary school level in the leadership of the BUT and now persons have firsthand knowledge of the problem,” said BSTU President Mary Redman, noting that Spencer, who ascended to the presidency of the BUT two years ago, would be among the persons involved in marking SBAs.

The SBA issue is to be one of the main agenda items when the Barbados Union of Teachers (BUT) meets tomorrow at Solidarity House, resulting in all public schools being closed from midday. It was reported that BUT president Sean Spencer made it clear that his union would not be relenting on the issue.

However, in an interview with Barbados TODAY this afternoon, Redman noted that the BSTU had been battling with the CXC on this matter since 2006 on their own, leaving them to wonder what could have inspired the BUT’s change from their non-interventionist position 13 years later.

She contended that the BUT members would have been disadvantaged by not having this type of representation until now, as a fragmented approach among the teaching fraternity did not augur well for the chances of success.

Redman also revealed that her union has always been open to dialogue with the BUT regarding a plan of action to tackle
the longstanding issue and that offer still stand.

“The BUT has not discussed anything with us besides the statement that they have made in the press. We do not know what position they intend to take up. This was a discussion that we were trying to have with them for years and we have never closed the door for such discussions to take place,” she said.

However, the outspoken trade unionist made it clear that the added support will only make a difference if it means that this time around that teachers is prepared to make a unified stand on the matter. She pointed out that each year CXC has been offloading more of its responsibilities on teachers and it appears that the council won’t stop until teachers are being made to carry the entire burden.

“This is now a purely industrial relations matter and the buck stops at the hand, the feet of the teachers in this country. They must do what they need to do if they intend to ever get compensation. The solution rests with the action of the teachers. Besides having made complaints to CXC, they continue to add more and more responsibilities, to the point where they now have the schools responsible for registering the students online as well as all of the data entry on grading,” said Redman.
colvillemounsey@barbadostoday.bb

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