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Union: teachers have ‘just had enough’

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Appropriate action: Shannon James, president of the Bermuda Union of Teachers (File photograph by Akil Simmons)

Teachers said last night they had hit the limit over a litany of problems hampering performance for schools and students.

The Bermuda Union of Teachers issued a statement declaring its intent to take an unspecified “appropriate action” over a lack of resources and staff support.

Shannon James, the union president, said that “people have just had enough” and that Diallo Rabain, the Minister of Education, had heard “in no uncertain way how teachers felt” at a BUT meeting on Tuesday night.

The BUT said it would base its next steps on how ministry officials responded to its complaints, which the union agreed to share in writing.

Mike Charles, the BUT general secretary, said teachers were “effectively working with one hand tied behind their backs and cannot get the job done properly”.

Mr Charles added: “Every teacher is desperate to help Bermuda’s young people — but the conditions and resources are inadequate and the teachers have had enough.”

Grievances ranged from rundown school buildings and equipment to inadequate staffing and teacher support, including the absence of a music teacher at Sandys Secondary Middle School, a lack of substitute and learning support teachers, and poor support for students with behavioural issues.

Job descriptions were said to be lacking for preschool administrators and education therapists, while some teachers had been repeatedly hired annually without yearly contracts, the statement added.

Mr Rabain said last night that he had received an e-mail yesterday from the BUT outlining concerns, and called for all stakeholders to “work together”, and that his ministry is open to an “open and honest” dialogue with teachers and their union.