The Union of Tertiary Educators of The Bahamas (UTEB) has spoken out in its defense after a letter from University of The Bahamas (UB) President Dr. Rodney Smith claimed some people want to be paid more money for working at home during the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to UTEB President Dr. Danny Thompson, his union’s members have not made any such demands but, rather, have been working tirelessly to finish the semester.
“At no point have I received any form of complaint from a faculty who has threatened not to do their work,” Thompson told The Nassau Guardian Tuesday night.
“At no point. UTEB has been very supportive, has been very collaborative in what we do, and we’ll continue to do that because we must unite as a nation, as an institution to fight against this COVID-19 pandemic.”
He added, “I’m simply saying that UTEB [and] its almost 200 faculty, have embraced the challenges that we are faced with and we are working very hard to ensure that our students’ needs are met.
“Notwithstanding the limitation with technology and internet connectivity, our faculty are using whatever resources – Zoom, Moodle, in some cases we’re using Whatsapp groups to keep in contact with our students.
“UTEB and our faculty are committed to completing this semester.”
In a union letter obtained by The Nassau Guardian and dated March 24, UTEB noted concerns of its members regarding technological challenges, including some students and faculty having limited or no access to internet for online classes; and Zoom meetings having a time limit, which interrupted classes.
The only mention regarding salary in that letter was to indicate: “While UB appears prepared to continue salary remuneration, there has been no confirmation by either institutions of the same,” which Thompson said was to prepare faculty in the event there may be layoffs, as many businesses have experienced.
Thompson said the technological challenges remain the only issue and stressed that, as his union has a signed industrial agreement already, the educators are prepared to continue working based on that.
“I cry shame on those who would attempt to introduce scare tactics, who would attempt to introduce discord within the institution,” Thompson said.
“I cry shame on them, because we, the faculty and the staff, I may say, are committed to making sure our students and the Bahamian public’s needs are met.”