BUT ‘as crucial’ today as 100 years ago

  • Shannon James, president of the Bermuda Union of Teachers, speaks at the start of a Labour Day event held at Union Square (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

    Shannon James, president of the Bermuda Union of Teachers, speaks at the start of a Labour Day event held at Union Square (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

The Bermuda Union of Teachers is as crucial today as when it was founded 100 years ago, its leader said yesterday.

Shannon James, the president of the union, said the organisation was created to “ensure that Bermudian children received a quality education”.

He added: “That is just as important now as it was then.”

Mr James was speaking as the union prepared to celebrate its centennial today.

Edith Crawford, Matilda Crawford, Adele Tucker and Rufus Stovell founded the BUT, Bermuda’s first trade union, on February 1, 1919.

Today’s milestone anniversary will be marked with several events, including a service to honour the union’s founders at the St John the Evangelist cemetery, Pembroke, at 9am.

The service will be followed by a march past significant union landmarks, scheduled to leave the church at 10am.

A proclamation on the steps at City Hall will take place at 11am.

A black-tie gala event will be held at the Fairmont Southampton tomorrow night.

Eva Hodgson, a former teacher, agreed that the union was still important today.

Dr Hodgson, who became the first president of the Amalgamated Bermuda Union of Teachers in 1965, said: “Collective action is always important, particularly where education is concerned.

“That’s still one of the objectives and concerns of the BUT.

“For that reason alone, I would think it’s very significant.”

She was backed by Cleveland Crichlow, another former president.

He said: “Even today there is the need for a body that is really and truly interested in education — and can offer some insight into education.”

Mr Crichlow, who was president from 1972 to 1974, added the BUT was an “incubator”.

He explained: “You go through the whole list of the people who have made an impact in this country and you’ll find that there’s some connection between them and the union.”

Mr Crichlow said that the union existed to serve Bermuda’s children.

He added: “We are the caregivers.

“It is up to us to ensure they get the best of everything, and the best opportunities, to become great citizens of this country.

“Without them — what’s the point of having the BUT?”

Dale Butler, BUT president from 1981 to 1982, hoped the union would still be around 100 years from now and “would play a keen part” in work to raise education standards.

Mr Butler said: “I’m just hoping we can continue to give teachers more support.” Mr James said the main challenge the union faced was to ensure that Government made education a top priority.

He added: “We believe that education is the building block for any successful society and the teaching profession gives birth to all other professions.

“In order for Bermuda to remain a key player on the world stage, the proper management of education must be a priority.”

Mr James said that he hoped that, in the future, “many of the issues that have been plaguing education for decades can be given some proper attention”.

He added: “I don’t know what the next 100 years will look like, but whatever the next decades bring, my prayer is that the future generations stay true to the cause as the needle to the pole, the flame stays blazing, and the love and appreciation for trade unionism never dies.”

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Published Feb 1, 2019 at 8:00 am (Updated Feb 1, 2019 at 9:57 am)

BUT ‘as crucial’ today as 100 years ago

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