BUT concerned about promotion exercise
FN News Editor
The Bahamas Union of Teachers (BUT) is expressing concern over a recent promotional exercise by the Ministry of Education and expects the remainder of its members to be paid its promised increment this month.
Those are two of the more pressing issues BUT President Belinda Wilson said her organization is closely monitoring as they make preparation to head back to the table to begin talks for a new contract.
The union chief told The Freeport News that "a good amount" of individuals have expressed dissatisfaction over the outcome.
"It has been brought to my attention that there were persons who felt as though they should have been promoted in various positions and they were not," she said, adding that some are not making the case for themselves.
"Some felt that they were overlooked."
In fact, Wilson said it is an issue she has discussed with Minister of Education Jerome Fitzgerald, as it is emanating throughout The Bahamas.
"It is something that we really take seriously because we would like for persons to be motivated and work hard," she said.
"And when you seek to be promoted and you work towards promotion, we would like for the persons who are promoted to really be deserving of the promotion and not because of favoritism or some other factors."
While she would not say that the BUT does not support some of the promotions, Wilson said they do note that in some instances other persons who could have been also promoted, were not.
"But we intend to, as much as the ministry and the Department of Education personnel, whether they have been promoted or not, once they are prepared to cooperate, consult and network along with the union, we're prepared to work along with them," she said.
"Now if they're not prepared to work along with us, then they'll have to see the other side of the union."
The BUT, she also disclosed, is also monitoring payment of increments for teachers that were due back in July, but which were not paid out in full as a result of a "miscommunication."
"Some individuals received the increment in July and we were expecting that this month the remainder of our persons will receive the other increment that we agreed to," Wilson stated.
"It seems as though there was a miscommunication among whoever the Ministry of Finance, Treasury, whomever."
Nonetheless, the union anticipates payment will be made this month.
As for the coveted medical insurance, which the union fought hard for and which became effective on July 1, 2012, Wilson said some 3,000 members have signed up.
The BUT, which stands 4,000-strong, secured an historic contract, signed earlier this year affords its membership for the first time in the organization's 40 year history major medical insurance coverage with Colina Imperial.
Those who did not take advantage, she said, didn't do so either because their spouse was also employed by the government and already had medical coverage or, in another case, they were unable to attach their dependents to the plan as it only covers the members.
"There are those teachers, too, who are single parents who have a child and their insurance already includes their child, they did not want to drop that and leave their child uncovered," she explained.
Wilson said while the BUT's main concern is coverage for its members, they are presently preparing for the 2013-2016 agreement and hopes to get a proposal in to government as early as January 2013.
"When it comes to that issue, we would have to at least discuss the possibility of adding a spouse or a dependent," she foreshadowed.
Wilson also addressed concerns regarding the 184 new teachers entering the public system this year.
"This year is the first that the majority of the teachers have been placed and many have been assigned to the Family Islands," she said.
"The only concern with the new teachers at this point is that when they go to the Family Islands the government pays the rent and the landlords require first and last month and security."
The BUT chief said discussions are underway with the ministry to look at having the landlords wave the traditional requirements in exchange for government ensuring rent will be paid in a timely manner each month.
© 2012 The Freeport News