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Teachers to get weekly negotiation talks

Teachers are being offered weekly meetings with the Public Service Negotiating Team until their contract row is finished.

Education minister Cole Simons said the first meeting will take place on Tuesday next week — but union leader Mike Charles reacted by arguing the move was several months too late.

It follows a demonstration last Thursday, in which about 600 Bermuda Union of Teachers members marched on the grounds of the Cabinet Office, citing frustration by a lack of progress in their contract negotiations.

In a statement today, the education ministry said: “Pursuant a commitment made to the Bermuda Union of Teachers yesterday, the Minister of Education, Cole Simons is pleased to announce that, following a meeting the Premier held with the Public Service Negotiating Team the PSNT has agreed to meet with the BUT on Tuesday, June 6.

“Further, Mr Simons noted that the PSNT will make themselves available to meet with the BUT every Tuesday thereafter to ensure progress is made.”

Responding, Mr Charles said that the union had expected weekly meetings when negotiations over teacher contracts began in January last year. However, he says only four meetings have been held in that period.

He told The Royal Gazette: “I guess it is nice to hear that however, this is what we expected when we began in January. It doesn't give us much comfort.”

Asked whether the union had originally requested weekly meetings, Mr Charles responded: “We don't have anything in writing. We met last year and we decided on an official date for start of negotiations. We don't expect to have just four meetings from January to May. That is not how you meet if you are negotiating — you meet as often as possible and try to get negotiations done as quickly as possible.

“Weekly is adequate if you are coming to the meeting with something to offer. We are prepared — we have all of our proposals and our rationale ready and they have been ready since last year. We could meet tomorrow — if they want to meet this afternoon we can call our team together and we can start this afternoon — that is how ready we are. The government is the one that is holding it up.”

The first of the weekly meetings is due to take place on June 6 and every Tuesday there after until negotiations are complete.

Education minister Cole Simons (File photograph by Akil Simmons)

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Published May 29, 2017 at 10:56 am (Updated May 29, 2017 at 4:29 pm)

Teachers to get weekly negotiation talks

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