Uncertainty lingers over teachers’ strike vote

Senator Dion Foulkes, Minister of Labour.

Minister still awaiting advice from AG’s Office

 

More than a week after the majority of teachers at C.H. Reeves Junior High School voted to strike, Minister of Labour Dion Foulkes told Eyewitness News Online he was still awaiting the advice of the Office of the Attorney General to determine whether the Department of Labour will issue a strike certificate.

While acknowledging the Bahamas Union of Teachers’ (BUT) eagerness to have the vote certified, Foulkes said the government is mindful of the legal precedent it will set on the matter.

“I am still awaiting a report from the attorney general in terms of his considered views on the matter,” he said.

“I haven’t received that report yet.

“But I’ve communicated with the president.

“She disagrees with our position. She feels the union has the legal right to have the strike vote certified, but she understands our position even though she disagrees.

“…We are setting a precedent because to my knowledge this is the first time that a union has applied for a part of a bargaining unit to exercise their ability to go on strike.”

The C.H. Reeves teachers voted to strike over substandard conditions at the school on December 7.

When contacted, BUT President Belinda Wilson said the union expects the matter to be resolved before the end of the year.

She said, “I have been in communication with the acting director of labour and the minister of labour and we await the strike certificate.”

Asked about the union’s course of action if the department does not certify the strike vote, Wilson said the union will seek the advice of its lawyers on how to proceed.

Teachers at the school have agitated about issues at the school ranging from mold and water leakages in classrooms to a rat infestation.

Teachers withdrew their labour for several days in October over the issues, but eventually returned to work at the request and intervention of education officials.

In an interview outside of Cabinet, Minister of Education Jeffrey Lloyd contended that every issue the union has raised has been addressed.

“The union requested that we do an independent study, which has been conducted — the results of which are being analyzed and provided to my attention, and then to the Cabinet to make the decision,” Lloyd told reporters.

“But the latest information we have is the school is safe for the conduct of school business.”