Turnquest asks Ministry to show compassion
NASSAU, BAHAMAS – President of the Bahamas Union of Teachers, Joan Knowles-Turnquest said despite applying for a strike vote from the Ministry of Labour earlier this week, teachers are not looking forward to inconveniencing students with a strike, and they only want the existing issues at the CH Reeves Junior High School to be addressed.
“We don’t want to take a strike vote, no one wants to do that,” Turnquest told Eyewitness News on Wednesday.
“Those children are like ours; every teacher in the Commonwealth of The Bahamas has at least a teaching certificate and a degree, every single teacher, so if we are professional we ask our employers to exercise that level of professionalism with us as well.”
Turnquest continued, “From May the teachers brought the challenges to the school’s administration. There is sewage leaking up from the ground, we don’t know what kind of toxic material is in there.”
Turnquest further stated that work began to change the roof at the school but that work has stopped without explanation.
Teachers at the school have also complained of developing respiratory issues and skin infections. Some have even claimed to have had miscarriages due to mold in the classrooms as well as rat and termite infestations.
During a rally outside BUT headquarters on Tuesday, Turnquest noted that a possible strike would take place shortly before Christmas examinations, once a strike vote would be permitted.
“We are asking the Ministry to take it upon themselves to work amicably with our teachers. We have over 70 teachers working there and they are working hard, we are asking the ministers to take compassion for our teachers,” Turnquest said Wednesday.
Since the challenges of the school’s condition have circulated, the school has made the decision to end school every day at 2:00 p.m., but parents say more must be done.
One parent who spoke on the condition of anonymity supported the teachers’ efforts to push for better conditions at the school.
“I agree with the teachers 100 per cent. Every other day my child comes home with another allergy, it’s not healthy. The conditions are deplorable,” the parent said.
Another irate parent who didn’t want to share her name said, “Listen when the teachers ready I’ll be right there to participate in their strike. The timing is concerning because it’s the end of term examinations, but I support the teachers,” the parent said.