Teachers Place, the headquarters of the Antigua & Barbuda Union of Teachers (A&BUT), saw hundreds of educators turning out to an emergency meeting of the membership called this morning, April 13, by the Union’s Executive, and resolving to remain off the job until the Government honours its demands.
Despite the weight of the unresolved issues facing the fraternity – including poor school security; lagging contract negotiations; and incomplete reclassification and pay upgrades – one teacher tells REAL News that their “rally today was a success.”
Describing the membership as “energized,” she says “a loud and clear message was sent. We are prepared to stay the course, no matter how long it takes to have our issues resolved.”
Describing the festive atmosphere – in which tents and umbrellas dotted the grounds – the teacher says “it mirrored a political rally.”
“Messages were sent in song, speeches and drama. Songs like Captain, the Ship is Sinking, King Liar, and Nobody Go Run Me would give you an idea of how it went,” she tells our Newsroom.
Backing up the teacher’s firsthand report, the Union published its position of support in a statement released this afternoon.
“Today,” it reads, “we stand firm in our resolve to withhold our services until the demands made have been satisfactorily addressed.
“To relent is to allow mediocrity to permeate … our system … and we cannot continue to operate in this manner,” the Union’s Executive says.
All of this activity follows the Government’s circumvention of the Union’s planned industrial action, which was to have commenced on Tuesday with a sit-in.
In a clear effort to avoid this situation – in which the educators planned to be present on the job, though not engaged in teaching – the Ministry of Education extended the Easter vacation by four days, with plans to reopen government schools on Monday, April 17.
Within this time, the Browne Administration said it planned to complete a number of projects underway.
However, the teachers, who admit they are “exhausted,” are resolved to “remain fortified in [their] quest for fair remuneration and a safe working environment,” and they are calling on the parents and wider society to stand with them in the interest of the students they serve.