Row over removal of BUT president from teaching job
The president of the teachers’ union was illegally fired from her teaching job by the Ministry of Education, it was claimed last night.
Dante Cooper, the Bermuda Union of Teachers’ general secretary designate, said the executive committee did not accept the termination of Nishanti Bailey – which he said was called a “resignation” by the ministry.
Mr Cooper said union officials had been seconded from the education system since 1981 at no cost to the Government.
But he added Ms Bailey’s secondment to union duties had been “the subject of an active dispute”.
Mr Cooper said that the move to fire Ms Bailey was “the direct result” of a decision this year by Kalmar Richards, the Commissioner of Education.
Mr Cooper added: “It was in the midst of this dispute and discussions to resolve it when the Commissioner of Education attempted to terminate the president’s employment with the public school system.
“The termination was not lawful, in our view.
“The attempt by the Commissioner of Education to terminate the employment of a sitting president – whilst negotiations about this very issue were ongoing – is an odious attempt to weaken the union.”
He said Ms Richards had refused ”to abide by an agreement between this union and the Bermuda Government that has been in place for more than 40 years”.
Mr Cooper added Ms Richards had decided that the Government was “not bound by this agreement”.
He said the secondment of the union president had been “in dispute for the past few months, and was unresolved at the time of the purported termination”.
Ms Bailey was elected as president of the union in October 2019.
Ms Bailey, who taught at Dellwood Middle School, became the full-time BUT president in September 2020.
Mr Cooper said the termination had been appealed and the union had sent the secondment dispute on to “the relative labour organisations both locally and internationally and we have begun the process of informing our members with a view towards determining how we, as a union, will respond”.
He added: “Ms Bailey remains a member of the union and is still the duly elected president of the Bermuda Union of Teachers."
Diallo Rabain, the education minister, said last night the dispute between the Department of Education and the BUT was “most unfortunate”.
He added: “I am aware of the ongoing and genuine efforts of the Department of Education to resolve this dispute and the numerous opportunities to meet that have been offered by the Department of Education over the last five months to try and resolve this issue.”
Mr Rabain said the Government did not play a part in personnel matters, but that he would do what he could to get the dispute resolved.“
He added: “It is critical that we are all on the same page in order to do the work necessary to progress education reform to build a better environment for our students and educators.”