NASSAU, BAHAMAS – The Bahamas Union of Teachers (BUT) is expected to file a trade dispute on behalf of teachers at the C.V. Bethel Senior High School, after the union was denied access to the school’s premises to address a reported altercation that happened earlier this week between a teacher and students.
“I went today to the labour department to get the trade dispute form and we will be filing a trade dispute,” said BUT president Belinda Wilson. She told Eyewitness News on Thursday that the union was prevented yesterday from accessing the school’s property to speak with teachers about Monday’s alleged altercation and the police was called.
She stressed, however, that the union has a right to access the school, to ensure that their members are represented, safe and secure.
“So when the principal is going to take it upon herself to call the police and to block gates to prevent the union from entering, then we have a serious problem. We thought we had already dealt with this union access, but since it has raised its ugly head again we will deal with it,” Wilson said.
The BUT president said the union is also taking into account the health and safety of its teachers, especially those who receive injuries that go unnoticed by administration.
Earlier this week on Wednesday, teachers at the C.V. Bethel Senior High School left their classrooms and opted not to teach, after the Ministry of Education reportedly failed to address an alleged altercation on the school’s campus – on Monday – involving a student and a teacher.
Law enforcement authorities were summoned to the school’s campus and the teacher was taken to the hospital to receive medical care after allegedly sustaining injuries to his arm.
On Wednesday, teachers at the South Beach school sat out and convened in the staffroom to discuss the alleged act of violence. They also took precautionary measures that should be taken to prevent a recurrence, the BUT president reported.
On Thursday, giving Eyewitness News an update on the sit-out which moved into a second day, Wilson said staff continued their work on a thorough discipline, health and safety plan.
Wilson said CV Bethel teachers also requested an opportunity to speak to students in an assembly before they return to their classrooms about general behavior matters, but their request was reportedly denied.
“The principal decided to hold an assembly by herself while the staff were in the staffroom,” Wilson claimed yesterday.
According to the BUT president, since Monday’s alleged altercation, teachers are traumatized and some are concerned about their safety. She said the traumatized teachers left the school’s campus yesterday around 11:30 to seek assistance from the doctor.
Asked if teachers would return to the classroom today, Wilson said the teachers are firstly requesting a meeting with the principal to be briefed on the way forward. They are also seeking a general assembly with the students so that rules and regulations can be clearly articulated, she said.
Meanwhile Wilson said she wanted to thank the 100 teachers at CV Bethel who stood strong for the last three days on behalf of their colleague.
Repeated attempts to reach officials at the Ministry of Education on Thursday for comment were unsuccessful.