BUT files trade dispute requesting strike vote
NASSAU, BAHAMAS – After months of agitating for changes at C H Reeves Junior High School with no resolution, Bahamas Union of Teachers (BUT) acting president Joan Turnquest said yesterday that “enough is enough”.
The BUT acting president said a trade dispute was filed with the Ministry of Labour on Monday requesting a strike vote.
Teachers at the junior high school have complained of developing respiratory issues and skin infections. Some have even claimed to have had miscarriages due to the mold in the classrooms as well as rat and termite infestations.
Earlier this month, the Ministry of Education pledged to have the issues resolved within three weeks, but Turnquest said nothing has been done and since the ministry has failed to deliver on its promise, the teachers are now forced to take matters into their own hands.
“Teachers are working in substandard conditions,” Turnquest said. “Classes are being held outside and under the pavilion, while up to four individual classes are packed in the school’s auditorium. These hardworking teachers are working in conditions that are unhealthy and hazardous to their health.”
“The BUT wishes to officially announce that a trade dispute has been filed with the Ministry of Labour.”
If the teachers do strike, it will be right before Christmas examinations. Turnquest said while she understands the concerns of the parents, the health of the teachers come first.
“I think health is more important. I am 100 per cent behind education but your health is more important than anything else, we take a lot for granted, we have teachers getting sick, students getting sick. Those rooms have no air-conditioning and ventilation and you would rather your kids be in that environment? The teachers want to do the right thing,” she said.
BUT’s area vice president, Vernon Rodgers said in addition to the mold issue at the school, the roof is now leaking a strange chemical.
“Something is leaking from the roof, it is affecting them, it drips on them, burns their skin, teachers are breaking out and getting skin issues,” he said.
“The teachers have questions; the union has questions and no one will answer them.”
Last month the Ministry of Labour conducted a walkabout at the school to determine if it was safe to be occupied. To date, Turnquest said they have yet to receive the findings.