As both students and teachers were expected to show up to the physical school plants on Monday morning, April 17, an executive member of the Antigua and Barbuda Union of Teachers (A&BUT) has come out punching against those who recently made threats against the Union for its decision not to relent on its planned industrial action.
Last week, teachers forced the Ministry of Education to extend the Easter break for an additional four days due to their planned protest over a number of outstanding issues. These include upgrades for teachers, which, in some cases, have been outstanding for more than eight years.
Since the teachers are refusing to return to the classroom until all of their demands have been met, they have been met with threats from some government officials, in addition to persons having a close association with the Antigua Labour Party (ALP).
This morning, April 17, Sharon Kelsick, the general secretary of the Union, clapped back during a press conference. She addressed Minister of Education Daryl Matthew, who reportedly has accused the Union and its executive of being responsible for the current state of affairs in education.
Matthew reportedly made the bold comments on Saturday, April 15, during an interview.
In response, Kelsick is urging Matthew to stop laying blame at the feet of the Teachers Union and to point fingers at the ministry which he heads, instead, since failure seems to have become the norm for this government department.
She adds that Matthew’s statement was discourteous and in poor taste.
The general secretary says the Union has been more than accommodating in providing certain information to the ministry – which it ought to have had already.
Kelsick says she is bothered by Matthew’s insinuation that members of the Union are playing politics in an effort to bring down the Gaston Browne Administration.
But in spite of what the minister thinks, the general secretary says, the Union will not relent. Rather, it will continue standing up to fight on behalf of its members – in order to bring about a paradigm shift in education for the development of the entire student body.
Further, Kelsick has this to say to those who are supporting the minister and have made certain threats against the teachers.