BUT files 5 trade disputes

Labour Director, Robert Farquharson.

The Bahamas Union of Teachers (BUT) has followed through with its promise to file five trade disputes, according to Chairman of the National Tripartite Unions Council (NTUC) Robert Farquharson.

“The Department of Industrial Union, headed by Althea Albury, has those matters in hand and she’s expected to address those matters sometime next week,” Farquharson said during the NTUC’s first general meeting Tuesday.

“I try not to comment on the ongoing investigations but I can say, in reviewing the trade disputes, I believe we will be in a position to resolve those matters at the Department of Labour.”

The disputes stem from the ongoing issues between union teachers and the Ministry of Education, which climaxed last week when hundreds of teachers gathered for an impromptu rally in from BUT headquarters to voice their concerns.

At that meeting, BUT President Belinda Wilson demanded respect for what she said are the constitutional rights of her teacher members.

“You cannot run the school alone,” Wilson warned. “We are placing you on notice.

“We have principals who are refusing to sign a National Insurance Board (NIB) form [for teachers] because of injuries on the job.”

Wilson explained that there is a laundry list of concerns the union has with a number of schools, including salary deductions without reason from teachers’ pay, infrastructure issues that have caused concern for teachers and students in classrooms and lastly, promotions.

However, Minister of Education Jeff Lloyd said he had already met with Wilson and called the rally “disappointing”.

While Lloyd did not dismiss the numerous concerns, the union brought to the forefront, he said he was still disappointed.

“I have sat with the union and I’ve sat with the president and I have said we are working on it and we have been working on it for a long time since we came in office,” Lloyd said.

The education minister said, the issues involving the union have rolled over since the previous administration and they will not be resolved overnight.