Bahamas Union of Teachers (BUT) President Belinda Wilson said yesterday that teachers at C.H. Reeves Junior High School are prepared to strike if conditions at the school are not improved by Monday.
“When we walk into the school – the teachers and the students – on January 7, we want to walk into an environment that is conducive for teaching and for learning,” Wilson said during a press conference outside the school.
She added, “As you would be aware, school is closed.
“However, myself along with the shop steward and the district steward, we thought it fitting to come here today for us to do an assessment as to whether, on the break, the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Works was able to do some of the things we had taken our strike vote about.”
The union took a strike vote in December over the “substandard conditions” at the school.
Director of Labour John Pinder said 69 of the 74 teachers at the school took part in the vote. Sixty-eight voted to strike and one voted against it.
“…Today I’m pleased to state that the minister of labor has issued the strike vote certificate for C.H. Reeves Junior High School,” Wilson said.
She continued, “I’m happy that we have received it.
“I hope, like I said earlier, that we will not have to use it.
“It’s like an insurance. You hope you never need to use it, but you want to have it just in case.”
Teachers at C.H. Reeves raised concerns about mold and water leakages in classrooms, termite and rat infestations and non-functioning bathrooms, among other issues.
Last October, teachers at the school refused to work due to those issues.
Minister of Education Jeffrey Lloyd has said that “every issue complained about by the teachers [has] been or [is] being aggressively addressed”.
When contacted yesterday, Lloyd had no comment.
According to Wilson, the union and representatives from the Ministry of Education were scheduled to conduct a walkabout of the school yesterday, but it never happened.
She said the walkabout was “to ensure that all outstanding matters pertaining to C.H. Reeves Junior High School are dealt with between today and Sunday”.
Pinder said yesterday that an independent assessor and officials from the Ministry of Labour and Ministry of Environment “went down to the school to get some samples to ensure that there was no mold”.
“The union was supposed to be involved in that also,” Pinder said.
“As far as I know, steps are being taken to correct whatever issues are pending. If [Wilson] wishes to strike, she has a strike certificate in her hand.”
Wilson said, “We’re hoping that a proper assessment of the mold has been done by an independent assessor as we would’ve asked.”
When asked what will happen on Monday, Wilson said, “We have a certificate. It’s called a strike vote certificate, so we will invoke our right to strike at C.H. Reeves, but as I said earlier that’s going to be our next option.”
Education: Goldsmith, University of London, MA in Race, Media and Social Justice
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