BUT escalates dispute over salary reductions – The Royal Gazette | Bermuda News, Business, Sports, Events, & Community

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BUT escalates dispute over salary reductions

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Teachers have been told to work with only what they are given by the Government in an escalation of a dispute over salary deductions for industrial action.

The Bermuda Union of Teachers made the call in a letter to members sent at the weekend.

The letter said: “Any employee would be within his or her expectation that the employer would provide the necessary tools to complete the assigned work — it would be totally irresponsible to expect anything less.

“This means that no one can be required to use their personal resources for the completion or engagement of any work relating to his or her job, which should be provided by the employer.”

The letter was sent to union members last Friday.

The move came after Nishanthi Bailey, the BUT president, last week slammed a decision to dock the wages of teachers who took part in industrial action at four schools in February.

Kalmar Richards, the Commissioner of Education, told Ms Bailey that teachers at Dellwood Middle School and Elliot, Northlands and Victor Scott primary schools were to be docked wages over the industrial action, which started during the week of February 17 and continued for several days.

Ms Bailey said that the notification from the Government of the plan “came last week during this time of national uncertainty, contributing to heightened emotions” amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

She added: “Even during this time, where each day we are faced with the unknown, and, as a community, there has been a commendable demonstration of flexibility as we all do our part to support each other to bring a sense of calm to an uneasy situation, our employers are standing by the policy of when there is no work, there is no pay.”

Ms Bailey told members that the BUT had withdrawn its “support of and collaboration” with the ministry and Department of Education until there was a U-turn on the cuts to salaries.

She said: “We wish you a productive week as you readily return to work on April 6 with the resources you have been provided to carry out your tasks.”

Ms Richards said yesterday that the industrial action “saw teaching and learning services stop for a total of 720 students”.

She added: “The parents of our students were impacted as one school closed without notice.”

Ms Richards said that teachers had been reminded at the time of the Government's policy of “no work, no pay”.

She added: “They were in breach of the union agreement, and advised of avenues in their collective bargaining agreement whereby they can have their concerns addressed.

“Despite this, they still chose to continue with their meetings and not carry out their responsibilities.”

Ms Richards said that, as well as a decision to delay the wage deductions until the summer, “further accommodations” had been extended to teachers.

She explained: “Over the next two weeks we have revised schedules for school staff and suspended the remote learning programme during the week of April 13.”

Ms Richards said that the Government appreciated the work of teachers and school staff during the Covid-19 pandemic.

She added: “During the week of March 23, when we launched a remote learning strategy, our school staff demonstrated a commitment to students by engaging them in a variety of remote learning activities.”

Ms Richards said in a letter to parents and guardians last Friday that the Covid-19 pandemic had led to “an incredibly challenging time for the entire public education family and the wider community”.

She added: “I was to thank you for your patience and understanding as we have dealt with this unprecedented situation.”

Ms Richards said that parents would be kept informed on developments and told when schools would be reopened.

She highlighted that a “recovery period” would be set up for the first week pupils were back in the classroom to help them transition back to normal school life.

Diallo Rabain, the Minister of Education, added that the Easter break for pupils would be extended to include this week and that teachers and principals were to work remotely and plan for the reopening of schools.

Government reminder: Kalmar Richards, the Commissioner of Education (Photograph by Akil Simmons)
Nishanthi Bailey

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Published April 08, 2020 at 9:00 am (Updated April 08, 2020 at 9:02 am)

BUT escalates dispute over salary reductions

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