BSTU President Mary Redman (left) after today’s hearing, with BSTU member and secondary school teacher, Reverend Charles Morris. (Photo credit: Barbados Today)
BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Wednesday June 28, 2017 – Disgruntled teachers in Barbados are taking the Ministry of Education to court to fight for the restoration of their June salaries, which were docked for participating in a protest march back in April.
Yesterday, Supreme Court Justice Pamela Beckles heard an injunction which was first filed last Thursday by the Barbados Secondary Teachers’ Union (BSTU) to block the salary cut.
At the hearing, which lasted just 20 minutes, lawyers for the two sides agreed to a speedy trial and the court set the dates for the filing of submissions and the filing of further affidavit evidence for the October 18 pre-trial review.
When he emerged from the hearing, BSTU attorney Gregory Nicholls described the action taken by the Ministry of Education as “unprecedented” and a breach of the teachers’ constitutional rights.
“This is a retaliatory and punitive measure being exacted against teachers without due process, because none of the teachers whose salaries have been docked were charged or found guilty at a hearing that they were absent without permission or reasonable explanation,” he argued.
Nicholls was adamant that only the Governor General, acting on the advice of the Public Service Commission, has the legal authority to do.
“This is enshrined in the Constitution of Barbados, and therefore the Constitution of Barbados being supreme law, any process that does not have the Governor General acting on the advice of the [Public] Service Commission is in breach of the constitutional provisions.”
Some 200 members of the 500-strong BSTU took to the streets on April 5, in what they had dubbed a March of Respect to press their case for payment to correct school-based assessment (SBA) projects administered by the Caribbean Examinations Council.
Minister of Education Ronald Jones has sought to distance himself from the issue, telling online newspaper Barbados Today that he was unaware of the docking of the teachers’ pay.
“I don’t know anything about that. It is not something the Minister of Education is involved with. I am a policymaker; I am not the individual who deals with the docking of pay. A minister can’t dock anybody’s pay or recommend that anybody’s pay be docked. That is not at all the remit of the minister,” he insisted.
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