BUT Demands Backpay For Administrators
Bahamas Union of Teachers President Kingsley Black warned Tuesday that if the government does not soon pay 300 public school administrators the $500,000 owed to them in salary arrears, industrial action could follow.
Addressing a press conference at the BUT's headquarters on Bethel Avenue, Mr. Black said BUT had an agreement with the government, dated October 20, 2003, to pay the arrears on November 28, 2003.
"Three months later this matter remains unresolved," he said. "Last week, public school administrators were ready to engage in industrial action to protest against the long wait for their money. However, the industrial action was postponed after they received a last minute notice that their back pay will be paid on February 25, 2004."
Mr. Black added, "We expect that the government will honour their commitment on Wednesday. Of course if public school administrators do no received their money [Wednesday], the BUT cannot guarantee industrial peace when school resumes on March 2 after the midterm break."
He also said BUT wishes to inform the public that its members have demanded that the balance of their backpay be paid by April 28, 2004.
They have decided not to accept the discounted settlement since the payment is three months late and this amounts to a further breach of the amended contract, Mr. Black said.
"The payment promised for Wednesday represents 60 percent of the total amount that public school administrators are eligible for," he said. "Through negotiations, 40 percent or 16 months of the 40 months of backpay was initially given up as a compromise to bring closure to the matter within a reasonable period of time."
He said his members feel strongly that the long wait after the agreed deadline is a clear indication that their employer did not appreciate their goodwill, therefore they want all of their money by April 28.
"The Bahamas Union of Teachers supports public school administrators - a very important group within our membership of 2,700 strong - in their quest to get all of their backpay. Given the new challenges in school management and educational leadership against the backdrop of high expectations for quality education in The Bahamas, we strongly advise the this issue be resolved with permanence, in the shortest possible time."
Yvette Rolle-Major, The Bahama Journal