The Bahamas Union of Teachers is headed by a maverick of sorts. Belinda Wilson, the oft embattled president of the BUT, has thrown down the gauntlet in a dispute with the Ministry of Education and Minister Jeffery Lloyd, regarding C.H. Reeves Junior High in the capital island of New Providence.
Wilson insists that the teachers at that school would be on strike as of today, if some mold issues have not been addressed satisfactorily, thus making the classrooms ideal for the students and their mentors at that institution.
“If the ministry and the Department of Education do not provide for us, proof, by Monday morning (today), that they have done all of the things that we have requested and they have agreed to do, then we may have no other choice but to invoke our right to strike,” Wilson reportedly said.
She left the window slightly opened, but the conflict between the union and the government education system hierarchy is real. Meanwhile, here in Grand Bahama, educators relate to classrooms not fit for use. The Eight Mile Rock High School is a case on point. Indeed, there is an sound understanding of what their colleagues and the student population at C.H. Reeves are dealing with.
At the present, the issue is centered around only C. H. Reeves and the BUT President has not called on the rest of the national teaching fraternity to come together in solidarity. That could be forthcoming if the impasse between Minister of Education Lloyd and Wilson continues. Both seem adamant that their approach is fair.
Wilson is acting on behalf of her teachers and by extension the students of C. H. Reeves. Lloyd, on the other hand, is hoping for patience, and insisting that the mold issue is being addressed as “aggressively” as is possible.
Will Wilson draw a line in the sand?
If she does, teachers in the government system throughout Grand Bahama and the rest of the country would be on notice, that at any time, the call for support could come from their president.
As far as Wilson is concerned, the matter should have been addressed to satisfaction by now and today (Monday, January 7) is crunch time. The issue has captivated the educators in Grand Bahama, as it has the potential of an outreach that could lend support through sickouts and otherwise, to the C. H. Reeves cause. It is certainly not a comfortable start to the new school year for Minister Lloyd.
He faces a strong-minded union president with the full support of the C. H. Reeves teachers and, we understand, the sympathy of parents. Lloyd also has to be minded about the national possibility.
Is the C.H. Reeves matter just the tip of the iceberg?
Will Lloyd and Wilson continue to clash, going forward in 2019?
Meanwhile, GB Educators remain watchful.