President of the Antigua and Barbuda Union of Teachers (ABUT) Ashworth Azille is once again questioning the position of the Ministry of Education, more so the Minister of Education, Michael Browne on whether they value the contribution of teachers.
Azille, while speaking at the union’s Annual General Conference last Thursday, spoke of the lack of support from Minister Browne, who according to reports has not attended the conference during the last five years, as well as a number of other important events.
“Several weeks ago, it was heart breaking to know that the Ministry of Education held its annual awards ceremony for teachers who have attained several years of continuous and unbroken service and those who have recently retired, and that the Minister of Education was absent,” the ABUT president said.
“We are saying that these are the occasions that you use to demonstrate how you truly value your employees. We hope that this will not continue to be the common trend with our Honorable Minister of Education.”
He called on Browne to meet the teachers at their own level.
“Get down in the trenches and meet the people where they are and show them that you truly appreciate the effort that they are making to improving the quality of education,” Azille advised.
Meantime, Azille noted that the Ministry of Education must be open to talks with teachers when they request upgrades according to their qualifications and experience, resources and suitable working conditions in accordance with the UNESCO ILO memorandum of 1966, which dictates teachers have the right and responsibility to request these said things with the relevant educational authorities.
He also highlighted the fact that despite the many proposals the ABUT put forward during negotiations, the Ministry of Education continues to drag its feet on the matter.
“I suppose that it is a fair question when the mechanism for completing the collective bargaining process seems to be moving at a deliberately slow pace. I suppose that the saying the ‘more things change, the more they remain the same’ is truly applicable in this instance because after a year and a half it appears that the government’s negotiating team has failed to familiarise themselves with all of the clauses of our proposals.
“After a year and a half, we sat in what should have been a productive initial meeting and we could not step one tile further,” said Azille.