Government’s promise of Police and Defence Force night patrol of schools averts industrial action by Teachers Union

Members of the Antigua and Barbuda Union of Teachers (A&BUT) spent four hours in a meeting on Tuesday morning, October 4, only to decide that the Police should commence patrol of the Nation’s schools from Friday, October 7.

According to a source, this patrol arrangement would be only for three months, coming to an end in January 2023, at which time a review of its success or failure will take place.

The Union had threatened industrial action today, October 4, if the Government failed to provide 24-hour security to the public schools by Monday, October 3.

However, with the promise of patrols, the action has been averted and schools will resume classes, for half of the day, on Wednesday, October 5, due to World Teachers Day activities.

Reportedly, it was Minister of Education Daryl Matthew who proposed that the school plants be patrolled at night by police officers and soldiers from the Defence Force.

A source says that teachers were told that patrols could start either Thursday or Friday, but they should choose the most convenient day.

In the meantime, officers reportedly are complaining of being stretched to the limit.  In an online letter purported to have been penned by a police officer, it was noted that the Police and the Fire Department, especially, are currently short staffed.

While the Government is supposedly tight on finances at this moment, both agencies are in need of proper tools to efficiently serve the needs of the Nation, the officer says.

Allegedly, while other government agencies are hiring scores of persons ahead of the General Elections, both the Police and Fire Department were told that no new personnel could be hired because the Government is cash strapped.

Further, REAL News learned that the Government is complaining that it will not be able to honour the payment requested by Special Security Services in order to have security at night – in addition to daytime coverage – since the Administration has no money.